California Revisits Implementing IT Vendor Performance System

The reporting system would feature multiple evaluations and a 30-day response period for contractors, among other stipulations.

by Matt Williams, Techwire / April 11, 2017

The California Department of Technology (CDT) would be required to develop a contractor performance assessment reporting system no later than 2019 under legislation reintroduced by Assemblymember Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood.

The assessment system would apply to "reportable" IT contracts and projects under the Department of Technology's oversight, and would be used as a factor in the evaluating phase when awarding information technology contracts.

Under Burke's bill (AB 1546), the reporting system would feature multiple evaluations, a 30-day response period for contractors, "information about the type of contract or project and whether or not that contract or project was completed on time, and information about the number of completed contracts or projects by the contractor."

Burke's chief of staff did not immediately respond to Techwire's request for comment, but Burke explained in an interview with our website two years ago that she's seeking accountability from both sides: the state government and the vendors that work with California on these expensive projects.

"It’s important for us to have a centralized, legislative fix for this," Burke told Techwire in 2015. "It’s great the Department [of Technology] wants to move forward on this, and that means we’re on the same page. But I think the legislative oversight is still needed. We’ve had too many failed projects to not have that in place. I think moving forward, it’s imperative with this sum of money — we’re talking about $4 billion in IT projects — that we can’t be wasteful. "

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed very similar legislation (AB 522) from Burke in January 2016. In his veto message, the governor said, "While holding technology contractors accountable for their performance is important, this bill is not necessary because it duplicates what the Department of Technology is already doing.”

At the time, CDT believed it was on track to pilot a vendor assessment system in 2016, but those tests were put on hold as the department's executive leadership changed and decision-makers sought more input from the companies that would be subject to the assessments.

In the meantime, CDT launched a new Vendor Advisory Council that is providing feedback on procurement, contracting, the assessment reporting and other topics.

Jennifer Saha, national director of Public Sector Councils for industry group CompTIA, commented Monday on Burke's legislation in an email to Techwire:

"CompTIA had concerns with this legislation when it was introduced in 2015, including the need to assess the state government's performance on contracts in addition to vendor performance. The state Department of Technology already has authority to do this type of assessment and CompTIA will continue to work with them to craft an assessment system that will lead to accountability and transparency in IT contracts.

"The technology industry completely welcomes accountability and transparency when it comes to IT project success but we want to make sure that the goals of the legislation, more successful IT projects, is appropriately reflected in any new state policies."

AB 1546 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection and is scheduled to be heard on April 25.

This article was originally published on Techwire.