The AusTender website will go offline over the weekend to return on Monday morning at 9am sharp with a slightly refreshed look and a new mobile-friendly design that is supposed to make it easier for small businesses to tender for federal government contracts.
None of the website’s underlying functions or processes will change, but a few elements like the main menu and login box will move to new positions, the download limit for public reports will increase to 100,000 records, and a new Quicklinks feature will be added.
“The site’s automatic scaling will better align with, and support the broad range of mobile and tablet devices now used to access AusTender, in particular by small businesses,” according to a spokesperson for the Department of Finance, which runs AusTender.
The revamp is funded through a federal program that aims to give small businesses more access to Commonwealth contracts, which was funded $2.8 million over four years in the 2014-15 budget. The budget papers said this would involve Finance consulting small business representatives on procurement policy and the development of new guidance, training and education about tendering for government work.
At the time, the government said it was creating a small specialist advice team to help small business owners compete with larger players in the potentially lucrative world of Commonwealth procurement.
In her relatively new role as the first Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, former ACT Liberal chief minister turned business lobbyist Kate Carnell was enthusiastic about similar efforts to simplify tender processes in South Australia in a 21 June statement:
“There’s potentially millions of dollars’ worth of government procurement contracts out there for small businesses around the country to capitalise on; governments at all levels need to ensure they’re doing what they can to maximise direct opportunities for small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to tap into this market.
“The reforms announced by the South Australian state government are a good example of what can be done to enhance access to government goods and services contracts for small businesses by removing typical barriers to participation and improving the overall process.
“The measures outlined by the South Australian Government include reducing requirements for procurement, streamlining documentation, lowering contract costs and expediting government decision-making times.
“My role as ASBFEO is to ensure governments – and their agencies – are aware of the needs and ambitions of small businesses, and that these factors are considered in the development of policy, programs and procurement; the measures outlined demonstrate what can be achieved when governments are attuned to the needs of SMEs.”