California Redefines State Technology Procurement

August 3, 2022 – California has come a long way since the days when the state would establish detailed requirements, define a narrow solution, and provide a maze-like set of criteria for technology vendors to meet—a process that could last several months to a year or more. No longer. IT modernization has created a culture shift that invites in the vendor community as a partner to find the best solution – together! CDT’s job is to help guide departments to find the right procurement approach that delivers the best value.


Procurement Approaches

  • Modular Partnership
    Modular methodology takes a modular contracting approach breaking up large systems into small, bite-size chunks that can be built by multiple vendors and rejoined into a complete system. If one vendor or module fails to work, the government can easily alter course to fix it without jeopardizing the entire system. This gives contract managers more flexibility and drastically lowers the cost if a project begins to show signs of failure. Modular construction also allows smaller tech companies to participate in the procurement process. Rather than bidding on one giant contract, companies can bid on pieces of the whole, making it a more inclusive way of doing business.
  • Partition Partnership
    In the past, the department would onboard a vendor and then determine what products to buy from product suites with limited options. In today’s IT landscape there has been a shift and expansion of digital tool options. In a partitioned partnership there is no centralized contract that procures both the tool and the system integrator (SI). The procurement is portioned to allow for the department to procure its tool on one contract while another contract holds the SI requirements and deliverables. This provides departments a flexible procurement approach when the tools and SI are untethered to the license(s), or in many cases the software as a service. This approach expands the partnerships to those resellers of a tool or product while selecting options that meet their unique business needs. Other benefits include lower vendor management costs, stronger software license management and better pricing negotiations.

 Acquisition and Prequalified Methodologies

  • eVAQ
    Electronic Vendor Application of Qualifications (eVAQ) is a continuous application process and the first phase to elicit pre-qualified vendor participation in solicitations. The eVAQ process streamlines the submission and assessment phase for repetitive administrative requirements. The process allows for an ongoing expansion of products and services in addition to allowing the state to add qualified contractors to the eVAQ list at any time, thereby enabling further participation and competition in future IT and telecom solicitations.
  • Challenge Based
    In the challenge-based approach, the state offers a problem statement to the vendor community as a challenge to be solved.  This approach involves an open, fair and transparent competitive process that doesn’t rely on long, complicated specifications. Vendors benefit from being able to propose their solutions while departments get access to the best solution to meets their specific need.
  • Modern RFP
    The Modern RFP offers some flexibility with its phased approach and less prescriptive process that encourages innovative solutions to identify the most qualified bidders.  The down-select process narrows the bidder pool and reduces the burden of evaluating bidder responses.  The Modern RFP also allows for negotiations.

Procurement Community of Practice

In order to drive better engagement and participation in the technology procurement process, CDT is establishing a Technology Procurement Community of Practice (TPCP).  Because technology procurements are complex and require substantive expertise in the IT field, the TPCP will create a network of technology procurement professionals who share the same interests, knowledge, and understanding of the best practices specifically for California tech procurements.

Procurement is a vital part of the ongoing technology culture shift, where agile is the focus and speed the goal. California government technology has awakened to exercise these better ways of delivering services and put into practice improved procurement approaches for the benefit of its citizens.