After two years of heightened collaboration between state IT and procurement groups, headway is being made to transform how state government buys technology.
Cumbersome old requirements of how government buys new technology are frequently cited as a barrier to innovation in government, but a new guidance document released Tuesday by industry groups could assist reform.
The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) jointly released what the groups are calling "a roadmap for state information technology procurement reform and process transformation."
The 24-page document is the product of nearly two years of collaboration between the two groups, the most recent developments being the formation of a task force in February and a workshop held in Pittsburgh in August. The roadmap contains 18 recommendations for procurement reform that NASCIO President and Connecticut Chief Information Officer Mark Raymond say are crucial.
"The business models in state government IT are changing as rapidly as technology itself," Raymond said in a statement. "The procurement processes for technology must also adapt. Indeed, it is our hope that this publication and recommendations help CIOs and CPOs start a conversation about what is to come in this arena."
The recommendations included in the report include those around building and maintaining relationships between IT and procurement, changing procurement processes, centralizing procurement processes, and adapting new laws and policy.
Through a survey of chief information officers and chief procurement officers, the groups found 66 percent of state CIO offices have some authority over state IT purchasing, even if purchasing is not centralized under the CIO. "This may present an opportunity to focus on using the oversight of the CIO to assist in standardizing the IT procurement process," the report states.
The survey also validated some assumptions about perception of the procurement process as a barrier to innovation. While 68 percent of state IT leaders surveyed said their procurement processes were "effective" or "very effective" at getting their state the most IT cost savings, and 68 percent said the same for getting the best value for IT, just 54 percent of respondents said they believed procurement was supporting innovation effectively.
"We had discussion at the workshop why we thought that deviation may exist, and the recommendations I think are focused on getting to that place where we all think what we're doing is innovative, but we're also being risk managers in the procurement process," NASPO's Megan Smyth told StateScoop.
The collaboration between the two groups has lent many new insights to both CIOs and CPOs, NASCIO's Meredith Ward told StateScoop.
"We certainly don't think that where there were issues we can solve everything overnight, but we do hope to start a conversation and I think the feedback we have gotten from the task force is that it has helped open the door to start a conversation and we hope to work together again in the future and continue the momentum," Ward said.
Constant communication between CIOs and CPOs was found not to be enough for an effective procurement process, Ward said, but the relationship between the two groups is important.
Smyth agreed that for reform to happen in procurement, CIOs and CPOs need constructive relationships.
"We want to foster good relationships with the CIOs, which hasn't always been the case, but it's starting to become the norm and we want that to progress into the future," Smyth said.
Ward told StateScoop the group plans to share its results at the upcoming NASCIO conference in Austin, Texas, starting Sept. 30, and continue to gather feedback and impressions from state IT leaders.