IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

State’s Business Manager Eyes Procurement Refresh

The California Department of General Services seeks information on what it would take to improve state procurement and contracting via human-centered design.

Wooden cubes spelling "HCD" next to more wooden cubes with outlines of people on them.
A key California department that serves the public while also working as the state’s business manager is looking for answers on how to do more with procurement.

In a request for information (RFI) released May 16, the California Department of General Services (DGS) is soliciting input from “interested parties regarding communication suggestions, best practices, and cost estimates.” The department hopes to understand the technical resources it would need to create human-centered design solutions “so that respective vendors have better ease in identifying tools, resources and opportunities in state procurement and contracting.” Among the takeaways:

  • DGS has worked over the years, it said in the RFI, to “advance many of its back-end systems and operations that have improved internal processes and created efficiencies throughout state procurement and contracting.” However, it has become clear “the outward design interface, outreach, and marketing might not be supported and resourced in a way that complements” platforms and processes that operate behind the scenes. The result may be an end-user “experience for businesses, vendors, contractors, local governments” that is difficult to navigate and requires “increased staff time and money to explain.” It could even “deter businesses and vendors from working with DGS or pursuing business with other state agencies all together, stifling economic opportunities for California-based businesses.” DGS wants to learn how to better serve businesses and vendors — particularly the former — via its “resources and tools” and human-centered design, to reach more new customers.
  • Using a “human-centered approach,” DGS wants to put businesses and vendors at the “focal point of navigating DGS services and resources” related to state procurement and contracting. By working with the two groups, it wants to learn where to improve on previous work and/or build new tools to support the groups as they navigate online state resources. The RFI is designed to gather feedback to “inform project requirements and deliverable specifics” for a future solicitation; identify a “broad audience of contractors” that could assist in delivery; and learn roughly how much funding could be needed for procurement. The RFI isn’t a solicitation, it cautions, and is only for information and planning.
  • DGS wants to hear from industry experts on what “government procurement and contracting communications and/or design best practices” it should review; how it might arrive at a strategy to improve communications and design around state procurement and contracting; the tools and/or services potentially worthy of consideration; how cost and deliverables should be broken down on deploying a strategy; and any other areas of potential focus. “Industry expert groups” could include vendors with a state contract, those that have bid on a state contract, or have interest in doing so; California businesses that are Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE), women-owned and minority-owned; “local, regional, and national business associations” including chambers of commerce; and companies specializing in human-centered design.
  • Respondents — “interested suppliers” — should provide information based on their “knowledge and experience with these services.” Doing so won’t preclude them from any future DGS solicitations. DGS may contact respondents for clarification. DGS cautions against including information that could be proprietary or confidential, or contain trade secrets. Responses are due by 5 p.m. June 9.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.