California State Treasurer Seeks Alternative Procurement Models in 2016

The Department of Justice will also continue its open data efforts and the Department of Technology is prioritizing advancement of CalCloud throughout next year.

by / December 2, 2015
From left: Jan Ross, CIO of the State Treasurer’s Office; Adrian Farley, CIO of the state Department of Justice; Chris Cruz, chief deputy of operations, California Department of Technology Eyragon Eidam/Government Technology

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- State officials took to the stage to discuss upcoming technology initiatives and what they see on the horizon for 2016 at the TechWire State of Technology Industry Forum Tuesday morning, Dec. 1.

The three-person panel consisted of representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Technology and the State Treasurer’s Office, and highlighted where each agency would focus technological efforts in the coming year.

Jan Ross, CIO of the State Treasurer’s Office, said her agency would be looking toward alternative procurement models in 2016. Specifically with regard to the debt management system, Ross said work is underway to improve the system without a complete replacement.

The debt management system is dated, but is based around a functional core. Ross said vendors suggested bolstering auxiliary system supports as opposed to replacing the 2004 legacy system.

“We learned that the core of the debt management system, which is an Oracle platform, is a very viable platform still. And with greater expertise than is currently in house at the State Treasurer's Office, we could actually build in the functionality of the auxiliary systems that are supporting it. If we took that approach of modernizing what we already have, then we could reduce the scope of our requirements.”

By relying on a project model with sequential work authorizations built in, both the state and its contractors could take advantage of contract “off ramps” should the situation call for it.

“This model incorporates the ability to award one contract, at a set term at a set price, but then within that, authorize a work order authorization to pay the vendor for that piece of functionality that’s built on our existing system," she said. "So the state immediately receives value for that piece of functionality that’s delivered.”

Ross went onto say that the agency would also continue its push to open state financial data and provide more self-service tools. The office launched its DebtWatch open data portal Nov. 19.

The Department of Justice will also be continuing its open data efforts, according to CIO Adrian Farley. He said the department is focused on publishing “vast amounts of data” through its online portal to help improve public policy and safety.

Farley said the OpenJustice Web portal was one example of how the department is looking toward the civic hacker community to better use data sets throughout the state.

“Our broad approach is to look at all opportunities for public-private partnership,” he said. “Everything that we build with DOJ resources, we are on the course to open source and make it available to the community as a whole.”

One such project is looking at more than 800 law enforcement agencies across the state to collect use of force data sets.

At the Department of Technology, Chief Deputy of Operations Chris Cruz said advancing CalCloud would remain a priority.

“We’re faced with really transitioning to a service-based type organization at the data center," he said. "We understand that we provide mainframe services, we have tenant-managed services and we have managed services environments, but we need to add additional lines of business to address competencies and capabilities of other service providers in the data center area."

Cruz said the department would also continue its partnerships with the civic hacking community to further state technology objectives.

“We want to offer this innovation lab as a sandbox for state entities and government entities, and really look at how we can collaborate and partner on data moving forward and building applications because we think this is really important," he said. “I think one of the things we’re trying to do at the innovation lab is look at how we can increase security. That’s always been a challenge around open source because you have different folks in different sandboxes, trading and transitioning data or code back and forth, so how do you ensure that folks aren’t weaving open-ended traces into their code and  how do you manage and secure that?”

Additionally, Cruz said the rollout of the Enterprise Project Management Office will be an effective step toward establishing processes and practices through the state.

 “We think it’s important to have enterprise tools and standards throughout the state …,” he said. “A cookie-cutter process, believe it or not, is a better way to do business.” 

Eyragon Eidam Web Editor

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as  assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at eeidam@erepublic.com.