Sovereign Resilience will improve the ability of Australia to withstand and reduce the impact of future events (fires, floods, droughts, pandemics, cyber-attacks, etc). As important, an immediate change to government procurement priorities could make a considerable difference in Australian self-determination and ability to adapt to such events.

In this respect, there is no sector with the ability to positively affect national resilience more than the technology sector.  Cloud and digital technologies are pervasive. They are the key enabler for reducing costs, increasing the speed of service deployment and enhancing the adaptability of everything we do (since almost everything we do is dependent on technology).

Sovereign Resilience and Self-Determination

Sovereign Resilience requires self-determination.

On one level, this means reducing our exposure to foreign government’s extra-territorial laws that potentially ‘green-light’ overseas access to Australian citizen data; as  John Paitaridis (CEO CyberCX and immediate past Chairman of AIIA) recently stated “we cannot be beholden to offshore providers, including US multi­nationals”.

On another, it requires greater prioritisation of the development of sovereign capability to build on the reforms recently announced by Prime Minister Morrison.

While both issues can be addressed and/or shaped through government policy, what’s more important (in my view) is that they are enacted through government procurement decisions that drive uptake of cloud and digital services provided by Australian owned and operated organisations.

Procurement processes disincentivise Australian Businesses

Today’s reality is that, having taken a view on investment cycles and risk and the transparency of the market, too many Australian technology companies actively choose NOT to provide their services to government. Companies capable of delivering world class solutions, that are the engines of job creation; that are the future scaleups and exporters; that are motivated to support Australia in times of crises; and that pay their taxes in Australia  – are simply disincentivised by lengthy, complex, non-transparent procurement process and behaviours.

Is it any wonder, when having gone to the trouble (or is it simply procurement theatre) of identifying the user need, converting this into a functional specification, too many government procurements mandate a requirement for an application solution to be delivered by a US technology provider.  This is like specifying the requirements of the car you want built  (right hand drive, five doors, automatic transmission, petrol engine, fuel consumption, emissions output, etc), and then qualifying that it must have an engine provided by Company M and then being surprised that only Company M or their supply-chain respond to the tender!

The DTA’s Cloud Marketplace is a positive step in this respect.  However, it will achieve nothing in terms of enhancing sovereign capability and creating a critical mass of Australian tax paying exporters, if government agencies are not held to account through every stage of the procurement theatre for cloud and digital services.  This means clarifying the priorities within business case assessment, ignoring sunk costs, not mandating technologies, insisting on transparent tenders (and pricing/cost), identifying switching/exit costs.  Above all, understanding that API-centric, containerised applications based on integrated micro-services do not need and should not be contracted as a one-stop solution (well, not unless you wanted the car from Company M in the first place and the procurement process was simply to get you the answer you wanted).

Government Procurement leverages investment

Procurement in business language equates to revenue.  And revenues, especially blue chip, hard won, revenues from governments, attract investors.  Buying from credible sovereign technology companies is a massive opportunity for government to leverage every single dollar that it spends into 10x, 20x even 100 x as the investment market piles into these successful companies.  In doing so, creating the platform for these to scale-up to generate the future jobs that we so need, build the future exporters our talent requires and the IP laden entities that generate, rather than game, the tax base of the nation.

AUCloud: Keeping the data of Australians in Australia