Michigan's state IT leaders team up with local agencies to improve procurement

Lower costs and shared responsibilities help speed up IT modernization.

Michigan IT officials are working with local agencies in an effort to increase productivity and drive down procurement costs.

“A lot of the times they’ll look at the state [thinking] they can learn from the state – but actually we can learn from them too,” said state CIO David Behen. “I’m a big believer if [local agencies] are doing better than us, let’s send our services there, let them do it for us. We believe whoever does it best should do it,” Behen told StateScoop TV during interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ midyear conference in April in Baltimore.

Behen sees the IT Agency as an administrative services arm to make other agencies “successful in meeting their business goals.”

This approach has allowed the state to begin virtualizing data and replacing legacy systems. It has also helped simplify purchasing and contract processes.

“Our contract structure allows them to buy off state contracts,” said state CTO Rodney Davenport, who joined Behen in the interview. “They often get better deals then we get, but at least it gives them a good starting place and sometimes it avoids the RFP process,” he explained.

Working with local governments and universities has also allowed the state to increase hiring rates of students just out of college. This has helped with the talent shortage many states are grappling with.

“I encourage young talent to come and work for state government for a couple years. When they leave, they are ambassadors for the state of Michigan,” Behen said.

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