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California Tech Leaders Plan to Develop IT Procurement Road Map

California CIO Amy Tong and Deputy CIO Chris Cruz aim to help navigate procurement challenges and opportunities.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California CIO Amy Tong and Deputy CIO Chris Cruz have a collective vision for improving both the state's procurement process and its overall relationship with the vendor community.

During the State of Technology - California Industry Forum* event held Tuesday, Nov. 8., Tong said extra effort has been made to unify and simplify technology services within the state. And a major and recurring theme in the state procurement arena is one of lengthy contract terms and conditions that pose unnecessary barriers to vendors. 

Though Tong said the clauses are designed to limit the state’s exposure to risk, it has created impediments to timely contracting and procurement. 

“We’re hoping to do much more in transformation in working with departments such as General Services to enter into what we call IT procurement reform,” said Tong, who took on the CIO role just six month ago. “The No. 1 hurdle we heard was those terms and conditions, it’s those lengthy procurement processes.”

To alleviate some of what Tong called pent-up demand, Cruz said a working group has been established to address issues with contract vehicles. This effort, in addition to other pertinent departments, includes a collection of vendor advisers.

“What we committed to doing is working with our partners at the Department of General Services, bringing in the legal team, bringing in the advisory board of vendors to make recommendations on how we could streamline our contract vehicles,” Cruz said. “We think streamlining those services will be a benefit not only to government, but to the vendor community on how we move forward to create those efficiencies and really develop a procurement road map moving forward.”

Another area where Department of Technology (CDT) duo said they see room for improvement is presenting a unified front for their state customers — the new iteration of CDT will focus more on coordination and less on delivering the same messages multiple times. 

“When we are speaking as the Department of Technology, it’s a single voice, it’s a single entity,” Tong said. “Now that we are here at the Department of Technology, to better serve our customers, the state entities, and be a good partner with them, we want that single voice, that simplicity approach …”

The CIO also hopes to better establish the agency as a trusted resource for those that look to it for assistance. Rather than have state departments doing the legwork that comes with many technology projects, Tong and Cruz said they would like to see their internal partners leveraging CDT expertise.

“Departments are established to focus on those business needs. Those business needs have a heavy reliance on technology as an enabler,” Tong said. “And looking at the mission of the Department of Technology, we really wanted to position ourselves and continue to strive to [reach] a level where state entities looking to the Department of Technology as a trusted technical adviser.”

This more organized approach comes with many potential benefits, Cruz said, the least of which is better bargaining power for the state.

“Really, tactically in the state, we want to drive to similar price standards. That’s really important in this discussion, ensuring that policies are aligned, that they are aligned with the security framework … and that we are driving tactical solutions. And obviously, volume also drives down costs,” the deputy CIO said. “We can be more efficient and effective in establishing a return on investment. We’re all fiscal stewards for the things that we do, so it’s very important that we lay out not only a strategic plan, but a tactical plan of how to get there."

*The State of Technology - California Industry Forum is an event hosted by TechWire, a publication owned by e.Republic Inc., which also is the parent organization of Government Technology.

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