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San Francisco’s RFP Bus Speeds Up, Streamlines IT Procurement

Following lessons from the 2014 Startup in Residence program, the city has reworked the procurement process to be fast for both governments and entrepreneurs.

Jay Nath
Jessica Mulholland/Government Technology
PHOENIX — After learning how difficult it was to procure a new system piloted during the 2014 Startup in Residence program, which pairs startups with government agencies, San Francisco’s IT officials sought a better, faster method for future iterations of the initiative. It took the city two years to put together an RFP based on the work done as a pilot to help guide visually impaired individuals through San Francisco International Airport.

“That’s just too long,” San Francisco Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath told Government Technology at the Summit on Government Performance and Innovation on May 24 in Phoenix, an event presented by Governing* in collaboration with Living Cities.

So last year, the city debuted the RFP Bus — essentially taking a number of RFPs and batching them together into one. Highly prescriptive rules were replaced by 30 challenge statements written by the four participating cities. It’s all based online, and Nath said it took about an hour for startups to respond to the RFP. The entire process takes a total of six weeks — an impressive change compared to the city’s experiences in 2014. The outcome was 20-plus contracts that were created through the program.

“Now in 2017, all of the cities we’re working with have adopted the RFP Bus,” said Nath. “It’s a great milestone for us."

*Governing is a publication of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.