Utah has taken the lead on what state IT leaders have hailed as the largest cloud hosting services agreement to date. In just a few short months, the final details will be ironed out on a cooperative agreement that provides a clear path to cloud services for a host of states.
Through the National Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO) Value Point program, state officials and their partners have been hashing out the details of what will equate to a collective procurement agreement expected to benefit more than 34 states. The Value Point platform gives states purchasing similar items cooperative buying power as one organization rather than on a state by state basis.
Christopher Hughes, assistant director of contract review for the Utah Division of Purchasing, told Government Technology that the final cooperative agreement, expected in August, will help a cadre of states move forward with cloud service procurement through a cohesive cooperative bargaining agreement and vetted contractors.
“Other states were really excited about this possibility of cloud solutions because I think all those states want to move into the cloud ... to not only store information, but do a lot of other things,” he said. “A lot of states are still in the process of having legislation created for them to be able to use cloud because in some ways it’s a different payment structure than what they are used to. And, some states have already had legislation enacted where they have to do a cloud-first sort of scenario.”
The overall process has taken more than two years and comes on the heels of a less successful push toward the cloud within the state. According to Hughes, initial cloud services efforts in the state were derailed by legal restrictions and incompatible terms and conditions language.
“In reality, this started five or six years ago in that the state of Utah put out a public cloud solicitation, but it wasn’t well received. One of the reasons was, I think, it was just ahead of its time and the other was that the industry hadn’t had a chance to really get around how to work with public entities dealing with all the restrictions and all of the laws and regulations that go around contracting with public entities like a state,” Hughes said.
This time around, perfecting that language has been a substantial focus of the ongoing procurement agreement. Other state CIOs and the vendor community have been an integral part of the conversations around terms and conditions, which have been taking place over the past year and a half.
“We asked vendors to review what we intended to put out as the terms and conditions and took their feedback from those, so that we understood where the vendors were, what they could handle and what we could ask for,” said Hughes.
To this point, the process has been a success. According to the project lead, more than 60 contractors submitted proposals throughout the project. Given the response, the evaluation process has been lengthy, he added.
Moving forward, Hughes said there has been discussion about including a cloud consulting and brokerage piece to the agreement for states that are not yet “up to speed” with cloud.