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California Homeless Data System Plans Procurement, Hirings

Two California agencies are in the proof of concept stage of a procurement for a statewide homeless data integration system. Tackling the homelessness in the state has long been a focus of the Newsom administration.

by Theo Douglas, Techwire / August 17, 2020
Shutterstock/MattGush

COVID-19 has forced the state to alter its course on many plans, but a key aspect of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pre-pandemic focus on homelessness — one with considerable significance for tech vendors — remains on course.

In a tweet last Tuesday, state Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro offered a bit of an update on the creation of a statewide homeless data integration system — a project already underway when Newsom mentioned it Feb. 19 in his second State of the State Address, nearly all of which focused on the homelessness crisis.

“Important alert for multiple JOBS in #data for #homelessness: For the last several months, I've spent a good deal of my time working on the statewide homeless data integration system,” Bonaguro said on Twitter. “This project will provide an unprecedented level of data to help us improve policy & services for those experiencing homelessness in #california. Now is YOUR chance to serve. Each of the following positions is available - apply by Aug 13!” Krista Canellakis, deputy secretary for general services at the California Government Operations Agency, and CA.gov (covid19.ca.gov in progress) were among those who retweeted. And Bonaguro briefly discussed the California Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS) during the CalData meeting Wednesday, describing it as an effort to aggregate the data on homeless people around the state “and combine it so we can do better policy and planning and answer questions that we’ve never been able to answer before.” The positions close almost immediately, but here’s a bit more on the system and each job:

• The California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH), a cabinet-level agency, continues work on HDIS with the California Department of Technology, Lynn von Koch-Liebert, BCSH deputy secretary of housing and consumer services, told Techwire on Wednesday. A central goal is to link state government with local Continuums of Care (CoC) — regional planning bodies that grapple with homelessness — giving the state better visibility into their aggregated, generalized information; enhancing its ability to report on that annually to the federal government; and improving work to combat homelessness.

“The major first thing that this will offer to, especially, the local partners, is that we’ll be able to do cross-jurisdictional analyses,” von Koch-Liebert said, noting this is not now possible.

• She and CDT confirmed that an HDIS procurement that opened April 3 is ongoing through Nov. 30; it seeks solutions for a “statewide integrated data system to collect and integrate specific data from each (Homeless Management Information System) administered by the CoCs,” with the goal of “matching data on homelessness to programs impacting homeless recipients of state programs.” The system, HDIS, “will be built on broadly used cloud services to collect data throughout the state and store such data within a single repository for analysis and reporting purposes,” per the solicitation — a three-part procurement now in its second stage. Currently, qualified bidders are developing proofs of concept (POC) so the state may evaluate their development and outcomes. Stage 3 is contract negotiations.

This type of procurement is a first for BCSH but not CDT, von Koch-Liebert said. The idea is that at award, the state will already have a degree of familiarity with the vendor selected and its solution, “so that then we will be able to move very quickly into full-scale development and implementation and then launching an implementation.” HDIS is funded in the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year budget, she confirmed, noting that a launch is not likely until early 2021.

• BCSH is seeking to fill four positions — all limited-term, 12-month jobs that could become permanent, or be extended or canceled at any time, it said in four job listings. The agency seeks a Homeless Management Information Systems lead (IT associate) to work under the IT manager I (ITMI) in the Data Integration Unit, providing “training and support services to Continuums of Care and local service providers on the use of the HDIS Homeless Manage Information System (HMIS) functionality.”

• BCSH is also filling three IT specialist jobs of different levels. Two — a data governance specialist and a business intelligence specialist — are ITS1 positions. The former would offer “consultation and information” on data governance issues related to the “Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council’s (HCFC) proposed HDIS.” The latter would be “a data analytics solutions specialist responsible for leading and delivering solutions” based on the HDIS platform. The fourth position is a senior business analyst, an ITS2 position, and would offer “consultation and information regarding proposed information technology systems, and (perform) complex information technology systems studies” to support HCFC.

• A bill to create a statewide database on homelessness, Assembly Bill 2872, the California Homelessness Data System Act, from Assemblymember Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, has stalled in the Legislature, but Fong told Techwire in a statement that he continues to take input from stakeholders and fellow lawmakers — and, pointing out that the current session has been truncated by the pandemic, said he wants to “take the necessary time to fully develop our proposal during the next legislative session.”

This article was originally published by Techwire, Government Technology's sister publication.

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