Kate Glynn - video transcript
Defence Innovation Hub Industry Update
Kate Glynn: All right. Good. It’s still morning. Good morning, everyone. I’m quite aware that people in this section may not be able to see my head, for that, I apologise, but I can’t help my height. But I will endeavour to hopefully inform you of the new special notice offering effectively, even if you can’t see me.
OK. So special notices, what are they? So the origins of special notices came really early when we were establishing the Defence Innovation Hub. We recognised the need to have a model that allowed Defence, truly specific capability challenges for industry to compete and to complement. The open solicitation that has been the majority of our model today.
So currently, industry is allowed to submit their pitches at any time for any capability they need, and we ask that they’re roughly align to our priority areas. The special notices kind of tips that on its head a little bit, where we release quite a specific challenge with a deadline, and we ask industry to submit their ideas specifically targeted to that.
Early on, it’s quite important for me to highlight the difference between special notices and traditional competitive CASG-type procurements. Special notices are really used where there is no known solution, and the Defence stakeholder wants innovative ideas and not necessarily products. We’re looking at things that are in the development cycle, where Defence might have the opportunity to shape its development to better align with a capability need.
And as to the how special notices work or how you can submit to a special notice? Just like the open solicitation, the hub person always tend to notice to alert people to the special notice itself. And for the more recent special notices, we’ve also sent an email to all of the registered IHMS users or the portal users, as it will be known to you guys. So if you haven’t already, I encourage everyone to register for the innovation portal and that is one avenue in which you’ll be notified for special notices as they get released.
The submission process or the assessment process is largely done in the same way as the open solicitation. So generally, it’s a two-stage process. They come in. They will appear right under the priority innovation needs on our Call For Submissions page on the portal with a description, as I said earlier, the deadlines, and the applicable evaluation criteria.
And just to reiterate the point in the middle of that slide about the differences to the priority innovation needs because it’s quite an important one, the priority innovation notice is quite unique in its setup and one of the first of its kind. So it is industry’s opportunity to pitch ideas when they have them to any Defence capability that they feel it applies to. It’s an open door 365 days a year, and it’s always open.
The special notice is just pretty much the exact opposite. We want to pull ideas from industry for a specific thing. Often they complement each other, and we have come across those challenges in the past. They are not insurmountable. But don’t think that if you have applied to one and you’ve been unsuccessful, it precludes you from applying to a special notice. They are separate procurement processes, and we encourage participation in both.
So this slide just highlights, I guess, the key steps that the Hub undertakes for special notices. It’s aligned but slightly different to our open solicitation model. So our first step is requirements definition. This is very much an internal-facing step. We meet with stakeholders and we meet with them regularly, and we make sure we have their requirements adequately identified and articulated.
We work with them to develop a challenge statement. For us, the balance in the challenge statement is to not make it look too solution-orientated but problem-orientated. So we define the problem, not necessarily the solution we want, and that’s a very important initiative of the special notice service offering that we have. So we work with the capability manager to develop the statement, and we publish it on the Innovation Portal.
For the approach to market, so the second step that you see, as I said earlier, we put a notice on AusTender. During this stage, we actively assist with industry inquiries regarding the use of the portal or clarification questions on the challenge. I think for most special notices we’ve run to date, we have received a point of clarification questions. Where they have come through, we have tried to publish a response very quickly and to everyone who has either already submitted or has a draft proposal or just on the website to let them know.
Just on the clarification questions we do get asked, for our first pilot special notice, we got asked a lot of questions. This is the SUIS, so Small Unmanned Aerial System special notice. We got asked a lot of tech spec kind of questions, and we deliberately went out with this is up for you guys to pitch a solution that meets the overall requirement. We don’t want to get too heavy into the FPS space. That’s where CASG come in, and that’s their type of procurement model.
The fact that we were open to so many ideas, I think, really should be taken on board and used for future special notices. If you’re want a full FPS spec, you won’t see it in special notices. Where there are identified hard constraints, you will see them. And we try to articulate the benefits we are seeking, and we encourage creative solutions to achieve those benefits within those constraints.
Once the deadline hits, and it is a hard deadline. For anyone who may think otherwise, let me just put that to bed right now. It is a hard deadline. We go through the assessment of the responses. We assess it in accordance with the assessment criteria that we publish. We contact industry at decision points to provide either an outcome or a status update.
We liaise quite heavily with the internal stakeholders. We hold a moderation session with all the key decision makers to come to a short list or an outcome. And then we prepare documentation and follow process in order to commence contract clarifications with industry.
As you seeing on the slide, I’ve got a dotted line for the Industry Day section. This day, and this was a key feature of the pilot programmes and something, certainly, I’m keen to see continue for special notices. It’s an opportunity where we bring short-listed-- so it’s generally a two-stage process, as I said. At the end of the first stage, we invited all the short-listed people to come to Canberra for a day. They got a more in-depth briefing from the capability manager. They had the opportunity to sit one-on-one with the capability manager to go through their pitch and to ask questions that they didn’t feel comfortable asking in an open forum.
And the key benefit, particularly from the Hub and what we were trying to achieve as well, is to foster collaboration between the participants who are in the room. We acknowledge that everyone has great ideas but often, two people linking up will represent a better proposal than the sum of its parts. And that’s a key feature of Industry Day.
We try to be as open as we can with the challenge and the constraints that we have. As Greg touched on earlier, it is a procurement programme. There are certain restrictions we do have, but we try to be as helpful as we can to industry in them forming, especially, their detailed proposals, acknowledging how much effort goes in to those, and that’s quite evident when they come back to us for assessment.
So after the Industry Day, and often after the RFP stage, where we send out the contracts, usually a response form, a few other bits and bobs, we do a sanity check of their response form. And we do try to tailor it for special notices to make it even more applicable and without unnecessarily wasting industry’s time. They are quite targeted.
We do make it as light as possible, I can assure you. Some questions are there to help inform our assessment against criteria. There is no question in the pack that is not used in the assessment process. So if that’s your concern, happy to talk offline about that as well, but we do put a lot of thought into it, cognizant of how much time it does take to fill them out, and again, very evident in the quality of the packs that we do receive back.
Then we go through another assessment process. We come to a short list, more or less, and then we start contract clarifications and negotiations. And they usually take the form of talking to industry to resolve any outstanding technical, financial, or commercial issues to achieve value for money for Defence. We coordinate clarification workshops, even internally with relevant stakeholders, to make sure that we go out with a one-Defence view to the industry participant.
We’re quite aware of the potential for mixed messages given the size of the Defence Department, and we do everything we can to try to make sure you receive a consistent and timely message from the Hub. And then should you be successful at that stage, then we will move to contract execution.
And then after contract execution, importantly, and I just saw Andrew Fish in the front row, we go into the project delivery phase. So during that phase, you’ll be assigned a project manager that will support the delivery of your respective project. Andrew and his team facilitate collaboration between Defence and industry within the scope of the project. They also look after the payment of invoices and the approval of milestones in consultation with the capability manager, which is quite important for us, and provide contract management services, including assistance in developing contract change proposals and the like.
So the Hub, on behalf of capability managers provides an end-to-end service for publishing a challenge, assessing solutions with the capability manager representatives, and hopefully, at the end, delivering a good project that directly aligns and helps fulfil the challenge that has been set up by the capability manager in the challenge statement.
And just to give everyone a flavour of the special notices that we have had, that we’ve run in the past and that we’ve currently got on deck currently-- the current ones you’ll be able to see on the portal. Some issues have closed, but we have the Next-Generation Army, which is really the Army Innovation Day. We went out for two themes, robotics and autonomous systems and disruptive signature management effectively. And the other one we have on the streets at the moment is the Network-Centric Soldier, which is a shared capability challenge between the Australian Department of Defence and the Israeli Ministry of Defence. And that one is for a soldier personal area network that connects the soldier to current and future systems and communication networks.
The previous special notice we have run and these were very much the pilot special notice programmes. I know a few people who helped in most developments are sitting out there in the room, and I thank them for their help in developing these.
So the Small Unmanned Aerial Systems of the Future, and the Novel Weapons and Novel Effects, which is Army Innovation Day 2017, and the ALNIC Next-Generation Deployed Wireless Environment.
I’ve put some stats up there just to highlight how competitive special notices tend to be. So from 47 responses to three contracts, 48 to four, and 22 to one. We are quite blessed that we do receive quite a high number of very competitive proposals. It puts us in a tough spot of assessing proposals that are all very competitive. Unfortunately, a decision has to be made and not everyone can win, but the contracts we do have, we are very excited about. And the capability managers get the benefit of having a really robust discussion about the proposals and really having their peek of what they take forward to the next stage.
So I’ve just highlighted those and just to contextualise those numbers, as well and repeating what Andrew said earlier today, the hub has assessed over 630 proposals, and that doesn’t include the current special notices you see in the top part of that screen as well. So we are quite a busy hub and certainly a busy team in assessment and operations.
And now, I am going to hand over to Martin to talk about rapid assessments, I believe.