Budget Prioritizes Redesign of State’s Procurement Process

Published On: January 15, 2021

California’s vendor procurement process, according to the 2021-22 Budget Summary, is officially getting an overhaul.

Whereas the state previously operated by offering prescriptive solutions to its private-sector partners, the budget summary states that procurements will be framed in terms of need, allowing greater flexibility for vendors. 

Part of the redesign involves opening up the playing field to small businesses, which the budget summary says will sustain jobs and aid in California’s economic recovery.

Shifting to a more challenge-based procurement format may improve relationships in addition to the finished product. 

Mike Wilkening, recently-departed Special Advisor to Gov. Newsom, spoke during TechCA’s fall forum about how the old format may have caused rifts between the state and its vendor partners. 

Wilkening referred to it as a “dysfunctional relationship,” and credited the shift from the Request for Proposal (RFP) format to the Request for Innovative Ideas (RFI2) (established in a 2019 executive order by Gov. Newsom) for easing tensions and leading to a better working rapport.

Another feature of the procurement redesign will be a smaller-scale iterative approach to IT project delivery, replacing the “rip and replace” approach that has led to bloated and seemingly endless projects like FI$Cal, which has been in the works for a decade and a half. 

Speedy and efficient procurement is of the essence as California continues to figure out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign which currently ranks 42nd out of all states in distribution, using just 27 percent of its 2.8 million vaccine doses at the time of this writing. 

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at govreport.org