Customer Service Minister selectively eliminates the procurement and tender process for parking providers in NSW

Pitchers of the Park’nPay app have been gifted an open invitation by Customer Service NSW to approach and sign government agencies to a 36-month deal/trial without a procurement or tender process.

Rumour has it, the contract it has with the NSW Government for the NSW Park’nPay app states: ‘enable local government agencies to purchase the Park’nPay app services under the State Government procurement rules without requiring to undertake an RFQ or RFT process’.

The app promotor is telling Government agencies that the adoption of the app does not require normal accepted procurement processes by signing a contract for a 3 year ‘trial’, for which they can invoice the government agency a variable fee. Does this mean that accepted procurement practices are no longer required for the purchase of all parking equipment / solutions in NSW; by the ‘trial’ of products for up to 3 years prior to formally purchasing the product? Does a trial of 36 months exceed NSW purchasing guidelines? In some instances it does, depending on the amount of ticket machines that are in place.

In NSW, all Parking Industry providers are required to register their products with the RMS whether its software or hardware.

The Park’nPay app creators have listed the app as a “app based parking meter”. A parking meter? Really? When, was the last time someone took a $2 coin out of their pocket to insert it into an app on their mobile phone? Whatever the source of this error, it is evident that the app creators did not want any competition from other parking app providers within the marketplace, whose parking apps have been listed with the RMS as simply that, parking apps.

The Liberal party has stated it believes, ‘That wherever possible government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that business and individuals-not government- are the true creators of wealth and employment’.

But the NSW Government has chosen an industry participant to provide the payment gateway for the NSW Park’nPay app outside of normal procurement policy requirements. It could have chosen an independent expert payment provider that specialises in payments via an EOI or delivered the app in-house; instead, it has aligned itself with a parking meter provider to promote the NSW Park’nPay app in conjunction with its own product lines.

In short, there are multiple providers in the parking industry that have existing parking app solutions, that offer similar or extended functionality, some of which are global. These providers are being denied the opportunity to compete in a fair and equitable manner due to the advantage that has been given to one supplier. This in turn has denied a majority of government agencies the benefit of choice, as those with other suppliers’ parking meters will not integrate with the Park’nPay app.

Furthermore, what is the intention of the Minister’s Office and Customer Service NSW? Is it to create a monopoly for the supply of parking equipment and services in NSW? By allowing the use of its branding, it is endorsing one supplier and its products over others, to the detriment of the other industry participants.

Government agencies which already have supply contracts with other parking industry providers should check closely that agreeing to ‘trial’ the Park’nPay app, does not result in breaches of current contract conditions.

Considering the uncertain economic climate that we are currently operating in, an innovative ‘veritable solution’ (as the Park’nPay app is described) would have been to develop an app that would benefit the whole NSW community, not one, which is limited to local government areas where the selected supplier has current parking equipment supply contracts.