Improvements to CDT’s Project Approval Lifecycle Coming in 2022

Published On: December 10, 2021

Better planning results in better project outcomes.

That’s the impetus behind the California Department of Technology’s (CDT’s) Project Approval Lifecycle (PAL), a framework that’s been in place for a number of years “to improve the quality, value and likelihood of success for IT projects undertaken by the state of California,” according to the CDT’s Statewide Information Management Manual. And in recent years, officials noticed that the framework process needs to be more adaptive, agile and nimble.

“Certainly the pandemic has identified that,” said Deputy State Chief Project Officer Andrew Wertin during the CDT Vendor Forum on Dec. 8, “and in practice, we actually have found some mechanisms to make it more nimble in terms of the process.”

In fact, Wertin said that over the last year or so, a team has actively engaged with the community and partnered with departments to assess pain points and determine how PAL can incorporate more consistently with the CDT’s new procurement modernization efforts.

So, in the first quarter of 2022, the plan is to:

  • Simplify and streamline the forms;
  • Align with projects using an adaptive/agile development methodology and challenge-based procurement approach; and
  • Promote more efficient “concept to launch.”

The PAL framework consists of four stages, and Wertin explained that in Stage 3, Solution Development, there are two areas in which an agent would be of assistance — dealing with the solicitation and the procurement. But the plan, he said, is to consolidate Stage 3 with Stage 2 (Alternatives Analysis).

“Now with the challenge-based procurement — perhaps as early as the Alternatives Analysis, where information is solicited from you all — [we would be] providing better solutions without having the state set a bunch of hard and fast requirements and making a fairly rigid, older style RFP process,” he said. “So, it’s really a consolidation of these two areas and making them work a little bit better.”

PAL’s overall goal, said Deputy State CIO and CDT Chief Deputy Director Russ Nichols, is to make sure the department is getting to successful outcomes and to invest heavily in challenge-based procurement.

“[We’re] really modernizing the way we do it, so it’s not sequential and not built just for multi-year, huge efforts,” he said, “but how do we break those down and make sure we’re on the right path sooner.”

About the Author: Jessica Mulholland

Jessica Mulholland is a managing editor at the California Chamber of Commerce, where she leads production of and writes for employment law-related newsletters, co-edits the California Labor Law Digest and the HRCalifornia website, and edits the HR Quick Guide for California Employers, among other things. Mulholland has a B.A. in journalism from California State University, Chico, and a Master of Legal Studies from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.