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Colorado Turns to 'Mini-Bids' to Streamline, Simplify IT Procurement

The state's Office of Information Technology prequalified a set of vendors so when projects come up, this select group is targeted, resulting in quicker response and implementation times.

Brenda Berlin, deputy CIO, Colorado
Brenda Berlin, deputy CIO, Colorado
Traditional government procurement processes are often considered problematic, which is why many jurisdictions (think California, Ohio and Utah) are starting to mix it up — including Colorado, where Deputy CIO and Chief Financial Officer Brenda Berlin says officials are looking at their procurement processes in a couple of different ways.

In 2015, the Department of Personnel and Administration, which oversees procurement in the state, began a review of the state’s procurement statutes, rules and processes in order to identify opportunities to modernize and improve the system to better serve state agencies, vendors and citizens. This ongoing process is called the Procurement Modernization Initiative, which Berlin says has essentially cleaned up the state's procurement statute.

In addition, Berlin told Government Technology at last week's NASCIO Midyear conference in Arlington, Va., that the state's Office of Information Technology (OIT) held a working group with staff from both the executive and legislative sides. Officials came together to talk about how to improve IT procurement, she said, adding that the hope is legislation to change that process will go through the General Assembly this year.

"Internal to OIT specifically, we've looked at our procurement process, one of the things we've heard complaints about is the length of time that it takes to actually get something done," Berlin said. "So one thing we did is we went out and prequalified a set of vendors and got them all contracted so all the contract work was done, and it's for a specific set of issues or implementations, and then when we have projects that come up, we send it out to this select group, it's kind of like a mini-bid process. So the goal is to do a quicker procurement than going through the traditional route of putting an RFP on the street."

And this mini-bid process has been received positively thus far, she added.

"It was our first shot at doing it and I think as we've been in this for two years now, we've seen some improvements, so we're looking to change it up. But I think it's been received positively," Berlin said. "Anytime you can make procurement more efficient and effective, I think everybody benefits."