Will California See More Proof of Concept Procurements?

Published On: September 2, 2021

State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong recently offered advice to other state CIOs: Do more proofs of concept, and be open to alternative ways to solving problems when procuring technology solutions. Her words of wisdom came during an Intel podcast, Embracing Digital Transformation, where she reflected on leadership and cultural changes in the technology community caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think one thing that one piece of advice I would give to state CIOs is, coming out of this pandemic… do a lot of proofs of concept, be very open on different ways of solving one problem, they’re definitely multiple ways of achieving an outcome, do a bunch of proofs of concept before you set your mind on certain things.”

Not surprisingly, her advice follows Gov. Newsom’s agenda to reform government technology procurement methods, starting with one of his first executive orders issued after taking office in 2019.  Executive Order N-04-19 says California “should develop a new flexible approach to procurement, called an RFl2, or Request for Innovative Ideas. In certain cases when an RFl2 is  warranted, the State will ask innovators to design solutions to our most complex problems, instead of the traditional RFP process, wherein the State predefines the solution and vendors bid for a narrowly defined contract.”

Recently, the state has used proof-of-concept pilot programs for initiatives like CA Notify, the state’s COVID-19 exposure notification app, as well as its digital ID ecosystem.

The technology industry has raised concerns about challenge procurements, saying they sometimes result in less transparency, including not knowing who wins the contract and under what scoring criteria.

Tong also hearkened back to Vision 2023, the state’s strategic technology plan, as a guide to get back on track after the state’s pandemic response gives way to other priorities.

In the podcast, Tong references “challenges that we laid out and that we frankly didn’t spend any focus on.”

Vision 2023 lays out a series of challenges and priorities, including:

  • Delivering easy-to-use, secure public services.
  • Ensuring public services are inclusive and equitable.
  • Building multi-disciplinary teams that provide technological support across state agencies and departments.

As the long hours spent responding to the pandemic begin to wear down and a normal routine begins to re-emerge, the state can attend to the new goals and initiatives identified as part of its cultural shift over the last 18 months, Tong said.

Watch the 31-minute long podcast on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/Nb55aRH93ac


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