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State GenAI Opportunity Focuses on Call Center Needs

Three departments have collaborated on a third opportunity for vendors, seeking ideas for bringing generative artificial intelligence to bear on issues at a state tax entity.

Illustration of a brain using dots and lines like a computer circuit board.
As indicated late last year and documented by Industry Insider — California, the state continues to release a series of opportunities around generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

The third such opportunity, released Tuesday, is similar to the first two in that it arrives as a partnership between the departments of General Services (DGS) and Technology (CDT), in this case on behalf of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). This solicitation, CDTFA said Tuesday, focuses on better enabling its administration of more than 40 tax and fee programs while responding to more than 800,000 taxpayer inquiries a year. CDTFA seeks a solution capable of using GenAI to quickly search vast quantities of reference materials to generate potential responses to taxpayers via telephone and live chat. The solicitation arrives via Request for Innovative Ideas, the “flexible approach to procurement” that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law via executive order Jan. 8, 2019; and, per the state, is the third of five such opportunities to be released. Among the takeaways:

  • The departments are, generally, seeking GenAI solutions for CDTFA Call Center Team Productivity, per the solicitation. (All documents are available on the California State Contracts Register.) CDTFA tax and fee program information is complex and spread across knowledge articles, publications, law guides, and manuals that exist in an assortment of webpages and reference guides. Call center agents currently need a great deal of time to research information and seek assistance — increasing the risk of providing inaccurate information and the potential for longer wait times, abandoned calls, and service delays. Maintaining efficient operations while reducing response and wait times is essential, as is minimizing the risk of incorrect information being provided to taxpayers and providing tools to improve the monitoring of operations.
  • Any solution must be able to seamlessly integrate with CDTFA’s new Amazon Web Services Amazon Connect solution, which is set to be implemented in March. It must integrate with AWS products including Amazon Connect, Amazon Connect Contact Lens and Microsoft Outlook and be scalable to support enterprise-level operations. Minimum requirements include any solution being a pre-trained, fully functional GenAI solution, and integrating with CDT-managed cloud environments. Vendors must host all other non-GenAI solution systems in CDT’s managed cloud environments; must follow CDT’s Statewide Information Management Manual 140 Cloud Security Guide; and do any necessary data pre-processing on state-provided data to tune the GenAI solution. Vendors must monitor, report on, and, as necessary, block GenAI solution prompt inputs for sensitive or classified data; must monitor and report on GenAI solution responses for factual accuracy, coherence, and appropriateness; and must store all input and output data in CDT’s managed cloud environments.
  • The procurement process seeks to use a flexible, competitive procurement approach to “spur innovation, promote collaboration, and entice partnership” in responding to state needs. Respondents must submit innovation concept papers describing the company’s idea for solving the problem statement, how it works and which elements of the statement it addresses; the goods, services and technology used in the solution; time to implementation and how soon benefits would be realized; what processes and systems the system will need to integrate with; and a description of the approach to leverage the solution and address the problem statement. Respondents must also describe how critical success factors like integration, tech, architecture, interfaces, power and human factors are addressed; where the solution will be implemented; what are the performance indicators and success measures; and who are the potential partners or stakeholders that will need to be involved.
  • An online conference on the opportunity is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday. Questions are also due Tuesday. Innovation concept papers are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 5 and will be evaluated Feb. 6-March 18, with selected innovators notified March 19. Proof of Concept (POC) contracts will be developed March 19-April 4, with awards happening April 5-8. POC activities will begin April 8. A date for the award of any final contract has not been set.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.