Is a Vendor Performance Scorecard in California’s Future?

A State Technology Vendor Performance Task Force is discussing how the scoring system would be weighted among competencies such as project management, system development life cycle, vendor performance and contract fulfillment.

by / August 12, 2014
The capitol of California, located in Sacramento. David Kidd/Governing

A California state lawmaker floated the idea of a vendor “performance database” during a recent oversight hearing on IT procurement, another indication there’s momentum for implementing a score-based rating system to improve the effectiveness of large-scale public-sector technology projects in the state.

Such a database, propsed by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, could dovetail with measures under consideration by a recently created State Technology Vendor Performance Task Force. The group held its second closed-door meeting on July 1 and discussed measurement criteria for a vendor performance “scorecard.”

According to meeting notes obtained by TechWire, sister publication to Government Technology, the task force discussed how the scoring system would be weighted among competencies such as project management, system development life cycle, vendor performance and contract fulfillment.

The group also mulled whether the scorecards would be made public in a database or website. The scorecards could be used as part of bid evaluations during the RFP process, contract monitoring and performance ratings for future procurements.

The state’s task force consists of approximately 17 private companies — from small businesses to transnational firms — and is headed by Marnell Voss, the California Department of Technology (CalTech) chief procurement officer. Formed in the wake of a string of high-priced project failures, the group met for the first time in June.

Frazier’s interest in developing a performance database was one of five “action items” he directed to CalTech at the informational hearing on July 29. As chair of the state Assembly's Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review, he asked the department to provide an update in six months on IT procurement changes; directed staff to identify procurement successes and continuing challenges; expressed willingness to support legislation enabling procurement pilot projects; and asked for reporting on training and education initiatives related to IT procurement for the state workforce.

Some executives from technology companies who testified said California would benefit from taking past performance of vendors into consideration when entering into contracts — a practice the federal government has done for years.

“If I’m bidding a project in the state against somebody who’s had repeated failure after failure after failure, we’re still on an even playing field,” Martin McGartland, president and CEO of Sacramento-based Natoma Technologies, told the committee.

State CIO Carlos Ramos has said that he wants to mitigate risk by implementing a system to evaluate vendor performance, which would factor into new procurements, with the goal of increasing private sector accountability. The state also wants to increase competition, drive down costs and shorten the procurement cycle.

This story was originally published by Techwire.

Matt Williams Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2