NSW govt trims $260m telco bill

Reduced red tape to save $50 million a year

The NSW Department of Commerce has inked new statewide telecommunications agreements which it anticipates will save taxpayers $50 million a year and improve front-line service delivery.

NSW Minister for Commerce Eric Roozendaal said the government has signed agreements with AAPT, Macquarie Telecom, Optus, and Telstra for the delivery of fixed line and mobile services for government agencies.

Agreements for three other telecommunications categories, including PABX systems, conference phone services, phone handsets, managed phone services and some data services, will be finalized by mid-2007.

Roozendaal said in total the new arrangements will cut the state's annual telecommunications bill by more than $50 million a year from 2007-2008 onwards.

The telecommunications agreements follow an "extensive and very competitive" tendering and evaluation process.

"The government has used its purchasing power to achieve the best possible prices and level of service for all government agencies - regardless of their size or location," Roozendaal said. "Many agencies will benefit from savings of more than 30 percent on the cost of a standard fixed line call."

For example, the government claims a school in Wagga Wagga in country NSW with five phone lines can pay the same call rate as a Sydney-based hospital that operates hundreds of phone lines.

Roozendaal said the telecommunications contracts are a key step in implementing the state's economic and financial statement commitment to reduce the $260 million per year spent by government on voice and data communications.

The new approach is part of the NSW government's "People First" ICT plan.

"People First redirects money from back-end costs such as telecommunications to front-line services such as patient care, police operations, emergency services and community services," Roozendaal said.

The new arrangements significantly reduce red tape and tender costs for suppliers who will no longer have to negotiate separately with individual government agencies. The agencies will purchase through the government's Smartbuy online marketplace.

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