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Input Sought on New Licensing, Payment Portal

The California Department of Food and Agriculture wants to hear from IT companies to better inform any future procurement.

A large machine cutting down gold stalks in a field.
The state department charged with safeguarding California’s food supply and enhancing worldwide agricultural trade is in early stages on a new IT project.

In a request for information (RFI) released Dec. 21, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) wants to hear from IT vendors as it contemplates work on a CDFA Licensing and Payment Portal. Its Office of Information Technology Services is enabling interested vendors to take part in a survey regarding the CDFA Licensing and Payment Portal (LPP) ahead of any future procurement. Among the takeaways:

  • More than one-third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California. CDFA administers and manages agricultural licenses, permits and certifications that let people and businesses safely produce, move, sell and provide agricultural goods and services. The department issues roughly 170 licenses across 38 programs, but to get information on these licenses and their requirements, people must search more than 2,000 web pages, and to apply for a license, people must access separate online systems or in some cases submit paper applications. Existing methods of tracking application statuses, activity, and related information are either federated standalone systems with no data sharing, or spreadsheets that necessitate manual data entry by staff. Further, some licenses require the submission of duplicate identical information online and on paper.
  • In 2022, CDFA finished developing the CDFA Technology Roadmap, identifying the future path and direction for all tech-based solutions in the department. The direction, generally, is to reduce dependence on in-house/on-prem resources by leveraging the cloud and using enterprise-type solutions for similar business functions capable of meeting multiple business needs. The department began this transformation with funding from the California Department of Technology (CDT), contracting to use the Salesforce Government Cloud Plus platform and Salesforce components as its primary enterprise platform for implementing business apps. CDFA is now under contract to implement one IT project on the Salesforce platform and plans to implement several more soon. Any solution proposed must be compatible with Salesforce.
  • Specific needs include a single source of truth — a centralized, unified, cloud-based platform solution accessible to staff and the public with secure login capabilities; the ability to upload data from multiple platforms to that solution; and a robust authentication mechanism enabling the creation of accounts, managing of profiles and secure login. Also needed are a comprehensive catalog of available licenses and details; the ability for users to request licenses through the platform; and the capability to design custom forms and apps in the solution for users to submit license requests and make payments via an integrated secure solution. Reporting, analytics and intelligence on licensing and user activities are also needed, to generate insights into user behavior and the platform’s performance. Security is vital and it must follow the entirety of Chapter 5300 of the California State Administrative Manual.
  • CDFA and its office of IT services may ultimately do a procurement for a portal solution via a request for proposals, a request for offers, a request for quotes, or via another state-authorized procurement method. The RFI is a key step in determining what potential solutions exist; to what extent they meet defined needs; whether hurdles or obstacles could be cleared by altering the solution approach; and how a solution could be procured. Responses will be analyzed and results presented to CDFA management for review and a decision on the solution they would like to acquire. Talks with CDT’s Statewide Technology Procurement (STP) and Project Approval and Oversight offices and their management are likely. Procuring an existing solution would likely be done via CDT’s Project Approval Lifecycle Stage Gate 3 process, with CDFA in partnership with CDT’s STP office. Should this happen, the earliest a Stage Gate 3 effort would happen would be July, with the target of a contract award in the 2025-2026 Fiscal Year depending on funding. An optional virtual conference on Microsoft Teams is slated for 10 a.m. Thursday; RSVPs are due by Tuesday. Responses to the RFI are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 19.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.