Almost 50 months after tender evaluation commenced, the $1.2 billion contract for the complex, inter-departmental Project Air 5431 Phase 3 (Civil Military Air Traffic Management System [also known as OneSKY]) has been signed by Airservices Australia and Thales Australia.
The Request for Tender was released to the market in June 2013, 18 months later than the expected December 2011 release. The system aims to integrate the nation’s civil and military air traffic management systems, enabling authorities to more efficiently handle forecast air traffic growth which will reduce congestion and open up more efficient air routes to reduce flight times and fuel costs.
OneSKY was added to the Projects of Concern list in August last year; there were doubts as to whether the taxpayer was getting value for money as the evaluation of tendered prices against the cost criterion was not conducted in a robust and transparent manner.
OneSKY was valued at $906 million when approved in 2014. Indeed, the conduct of the OneSKY tender is detailed by the ANAO report which makes for interesting reading. According to the national auditor, the records of tender evaluation activities and the outcomes did not demonstrate that sufficient attention had been given to whether the tendered acquisition and support costs were affordable for either Airservices or Defence.
THE ANAO concluded that an overarching business case was not prepared for OneSKY, an inadequate approach to summarising the evaluation of tenders was employed, such that it was not clearly evident that the successful tender offered the best value for money. This was because adjustments made to tendered prices when evaluating tenders against the cost criterion were not conducted in a robust and transparent manner.
Thales Group president and CEO Patrice Caine said the program is the world’s largest civil, military airspace integration project and is particularly ambitious in its sheer scope and complexity, covering 11 per cent of the globe.
“We will be using our experience in ATM systems with our key digital technologies of, connectivity, Big Data, AI, and cybersecurity to foster the success of this program. Airservices Australia, the Air Force and the Australian Government have a true vision of the future of aerospace.”
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the project will replace the ageing military air traffic management systems and is essential to ensuring our ADF can continue to operate safely in Australia’s airspace.
“The integrated system will manage more than 11 per cent of global airspace and some of the world’s busiest air routes. As a result of reaching this important milestone, OneSKY will be removed from Defence’s Projects of Concern list.”