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State Taking Proposals for Tech Funding Under Modernization Program

State entities seeking consideration for the money should propose projects with “clear, concrete goals, a viable and quick path to delivery, and strong support from the requesting entity’s executive leadership,” the California Department of Technology says.

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The California Department of Technology (CDT) began accepting applications Monday for state projects to receive funding under round two of the state Technology Modernization Fund. The application deadline is April 8.

State entities seeking consideration for the money should propose projects with “clear, concrete goals, a viable and quick path to delivery, and strong support from the requesting entity’s executive leadership,” CDT said in a news release on its Tech Blog. “Proposals submitted will be evaluated based on their probability of success, replicability, and support of statewide goals.”

In the state budget for the current 2021-22 fiscal year, Gov. Gavin Newsom designated $25 million to fund projects using agile solutions to quickly improve services. In round one, which opened in November, 25 project applications were submitted. Work began in January on the four that were chosen:
  • The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will develop a method to integrate state human resources systems with commercial job boards and industry-standard recruitment platforms. This project will expand awareness of CDCR positions and smooth out the process for applicants and state staff alike. The solution is expected to serve as a proof of concept that can be extended to other state departments. The estimated budget is $3.5 million over two years.
  • The California Environmental Protection Agency will develop a geospatial data set for the Certified Unified Program Agencies that protect Californians from hazardous waste. The data set will allow the state to more quickly respond to emergencies by identifying locations and jurisdictions of hazardous-materials incidents. The estimated budget is $1.5 million. The platform will be developed in about six months, with the data being fully populated within one year.
  • The California Department of Food and Agriculture will update and move online the system that tracks companies that can test and repair weight and measurement equipment. Currently, there are nearly 1.85 million commercial weighing and measuring devices registered in California, from grocery scales to electric meters to gas pumps. An accurate database helps companies find a certified agent who can quickly get faulty equipment back online, saving time and lost revenue for the business. The estimated budget is less than $1 million, with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) expected to be in production in a few months.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board will implement online capability for application, processing and payment for 13 license types that are currently done on paper. The project budget is about $400,000. The first license type should be implemented within six months, with the other 12 types following over the next year.

Criteria for TMF funding include:
  • Strong team composition and commitment from the department’s business and IT leadership.
  • Corresponding investment from the proposing department and agency, and a commitment to dedicate both human and financial resources as part of solution development and ongoing operations.
  • Clear, concrete, mission-driven goals (and modernization alone isn’t enough).
  • Sound analysis of the business problem to be solved.
  • Viable, fast path to delivery (ideally 12 months or less).
  • Return on investment (measured in risk reduction, financial returns or increased quality of service).
  • Support of statewide goals (e.g., Vision 2023, stabilizes critical services, addresses security risk, public-facing digital services, encourages shared services or cross-department collaboration).
  • CDT cautions that “some projects may not be good candidates for funding through the TMF, such as upgrading desktops, infrastructure, implementing new security software, etc.”

The state provides more information online about TMF, including answers to frequently asked questions.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.