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Procurement as a lever for better government services

The California Office of Digital Innovation was created to enable systemic change in the way that we deliver services to Californians. Like most parts of state government, the foundation for our work is guided by the statute that created our organization. We partner with departments to tackle hard problems, focusing on creating systems-level change that can propel change at scale.

A systems change that we’re really excited about is procurement. Procurement is an important lever for digital transformation. Knowing how, when, and what to procure helps departments and vendor partners create and manage digital solutions. Part of ODI’s mandate is to “rethink and improve how the state buys digital services” – and we’re excited to tackle this task!

We’ve started with a few efforts.

Qualitative research

We’ve conducted qualitative research to better understand the state procurement process, opportunities and challenges for small businesses in California. Thanks to a partnership opportunity from our parent Agency – Government Operations (GovOps) and the California Department of General Services (DGS), our team has interviewed dozens of buyers in state departments, and small businesses contracting with the state or wish to do so. We’ve engaged in stakeholder discussions with groups like the Minority-Owned Small Business Procurement Task Force, incorporating a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds in our research.

Supporting more digital payments across state programs

The Governor’s 2021- 2022 proposed budget highlighted the importance of state programs accepting digital payments by Californians when they use state services. We started this work by analyzing current practices around electronic payments like credit and debit cards for state programs. Working with our colleagues at the California Integrated Travel Project at the Department of Transportation, and DGS, we’re developing ideas to make it easier for state departments to accept digital payments.

Exploring other procurement improvements

We’re collaborating with DGS, the Department of Technology (CDT), and GovOps to explore other procurement improvements. This collaboration in action is best represented in the upcoming Technology, Digital and Data Consulting Master Service Agreement (MSA) solicitation. DGS has released a Request for Information (RFI) asking for comment (due October 18!). If you are a vendor, state entity, or local entity interested in consulting needs for digital roles, this is something you should watch. This effort will add data and digital roles to the existing Information Technology MSA. The RFI is to capture feedback on the proposed roles. The MSA will be the procurement solicitation to actually create the pool of vendors to contract for those new roles. We’re glad to partner on this effort and look forward to opportunities to dedicate more of our team resources to let more vendors know about the MSA and support state and local departments that want to use it.

Buying better services at ODI

We’ve identifying how we can better buy services within our own department. Whenever ODI releases an opportunity to contract, you’ll see a note at the top asking for feedback on how we can improve our own processes.

Systems change is never the result of just one organization. Efforts like these are too big to accomplish alone. They are often inextricably bound to other systems and collaboration creates better results. We are fortunate to collaborate with DGS, CDT, and GovOps and can’t wait to continue to dive into this work and leverage procurement as a lever that can enable better digital services for Californians.