The QITC Framework
In August 2017, the Queensland State Government introduced the new Queensland Information Technology Contracting (QITC) framework for procurement of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services by Queensland Government.
In this QWIK QITC Series, we are providing general information in respect of how the framework operates.
In a previous edition of QWIK QITC Series, we took a more in-depth look at the new documents which comprise the QITC, and identified that the Comprehensive Contract has similar positions but more detailed clauses than the General Conditions. We also identified the new Modules which form part of the Comprehensive Contract.
In this edition of the QWIK QITC Series, we will consider the high-level differences between the QITC framework, and the previous model for ICT contracting in Queensland, the Government Information Technology Contracting (GITC) framework.
In place since the early 1990s, the GITC framework was the previous standard form contract for procurement of ICT products and services by the Queensland Government. Following a review in 2015, it was determined that the GITC framework had not evolved to keep up with the needs of government or industry, particularly small-to-medium enterprises and start-ups, and thus an overhaul was needed. Prior to its replacement with the QITC framework, there were approximately five different versions of the GITC framework in use by the Queensland Government.
Accreditation no longer required
Suppliers of ICT goods and services previously had to be accredited under the QAssure scheme in order to contract with the Queensland Government under the GITC framework. Under the QAssure system, suppliers had to apply for a unique GITC number, and register as accredited for certain GITC Modules. This process cost suppliers both time and money.
Suppliers no longer have to be accredited in order to contract under the QITC framework. However, this does not mean that suppliers who are currently accredited under the GITC framework lose their accreditation – they are still listed on the QAssure database.
Key changes to contract documents
The QITC framework has greatly simplified the documents comprising the ICT contract compared to the GITC framework – see the first edition of the QWIK QITC Series for a summary of the new QITC documents.
The key changes to the documents are:
- There is no longer a head contract as per Part 1 of the GITC framework. All contract details are now included as part of the Comprehensive Contract or the General Contract.
- Instead of using the Department of Housing and Public Works’ General Contract Conditions for General Goods and Services under GITC for the procurement of low risk ICT services with a value under $1 million, QITC now uses the General Contract Conditions.
- The number of Modules has been halved from 14 to 7, with several modules being combined together in a logical order. For example, the new Module 2 for Software under QITC amalgamates the related GITC Modules for licensed software, software development and modification, software support services and packaged software.
- The number of Schedules have also been reduced to 11, as several are no longer required under the new QITC contracts, such as the work in progress diary, while others have been included as part of the contract details documents, such as the schedule for customer supplied items.
Changes to key contract provisions
In addition to the overall contract structure, terminology and clauses in the QITC framework have changed from the GITC framework.
Some terminology changes are worth noting, such as the 'Contractor' now referred to as the 'Supplier', the 'Customer data and processing environment' simplified to 'Customer’s IT system', and the 'Customer contract' now just called the 'Contract'.
Furthermore, some of the changes to contract provisions in the GITC contract as part of the transition to QITC include:
- Intellectual property ownership is no longer dealt with as separate ownership models in a schedule, and can be tailored to a specific procurement in the contract details of QITC.
- Security and data protection requirements are more stringent, reflective of changes to policy regarding the importance of securing confidential information, and personal information under privacy laws.
- The limitations on the supplier’s liability have slightly changed, including that the liability cap now applies to some indemnities, but carves out loss of data, for similar reasons to the changes to security and data protection clauses.
We note that in the coming weeks we will look in-depth at the key provisions in the new QITC contracts.
Existing GITC contracts
Based upon available information from the Queensland Government, it is intended that existing contracts in place under the GITC framework, including standing offer arrangements, will continue using the GITC contract terms until the contract or standing offer arrangement comes to a close.
However, it is unclear what policies individual Government entities may adopt regarding the choice of using GITC or QITC when it comes to extensions of, variations to, or any addition of ancillary goods or services to, those existing GITC contracts. Depending upon the goods or services being procured, the risk profile for the Government party or the supplier may be different depending on whether GITC or QITC is used.
We will be considering the risk profile of key clauses under the new QITC terms and conditions in the coming weeks.
For government organisations
- Note the changes to changes to terminology and key clauses to ensure that you are aware of the new base position for the Queensland Government when negotiating under the QITC framework.
- When an existing GITC contract or standing offer arrangement comes up for extension or variation, consider whether it may be appropriate (including from a commercial and risk management perspective) to re-negotiate under the new QITC framework instead.
- Suppliers no longer need to be accredited in order to contract with the Queensland Government under QITC.
- If you have an existing ICT contract with the Queensland Government, you may be contracting under an old version of the GITC contract.
- You should review your risk profile under any existing GITC contracts, and consider whether it may be preferable from a risk minimisation perspective to contract under QITC for any extensions or variations to the GITC contract.