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Updated: State Launches Pilot to Rate IT Vendor Performance

The California Department of Technology on Thursday morning launched a pilot program to rate IT vendors to increase performance and accountability in state technology projects.

The California Department of Technology (CDT) on Thursday morning provided more details about a pilot program to rate IT vendors to increase performance and accountability in state technology projects.    

Initially announced on Dec. 1 at the State of Technology Industry Forum hosted by Techwire, the new pilot will start in 2016 with some specified new procurements. The Contractor Performance Evaluation Scorecard will measure five key performance indicators (KPIs), included in language of RFPs and signed contracts. Overall ratings will look at scope, schedule, quality and timeliness. The five KPIs were winnowed down from an initial list of 225 KPIs across 32 focus areas.

The state hopes this new rating system will help bring forth better project performance, state CIO Carlos Ramos said Thursday.

"What we're after, fundamentally, is improving performance on projects. So we've done a lot of stuff to try and help the state do a better job of performing its end of the responsibilities. But at some point we also have to get into sometimes the issue isn't just the state, the state's teams, or that we had a bad procurement or that our departments weren't clear. Sometimes it is that contractors don't really perform to the level of expectation, or at least to what we agreed to," Ramos said.

"It's been a big, important initiative for the administration, for the executive branch — of improving project performance, but also getting a handle on who are our partners, what sort of value are we getting from them," Ramos said.

The state announced details about the proposed rating system at a public forum held in West Sacramento at the Department of General Services.

Officials on Thursday said the system would include an appeals process for vendors that would go in front of a project's executive steering committee. The project manager will be tasked with making the rating assessment.  Ratings, performed quarterly throughout the year, will be made public and stay on the books for 36 months. A vendor will multiple contracts with the state of California will be assigned an average score which will be weighted based on the size of each project.

Ramos said for now the rating system will be limited to projects that are under the oversight of the Department of Technology, but eventually he would like to see it extended to all state contracts.

California has been working on developing a rating system for more than a year and a half, including hosting two public forums, four meetings with suppliers and private meetings with a small working group that included state officials and industry representatives.  

In October, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 522 that would have required the CDT to create a performance scoring system. In his veto message, Brown said the state was already working on the issue. The technology industry opposed the bill, saying it "lacked clarity." 

State officials noted that the rating system is a proposal at this point and could change based on the pilot and additional feedback from the vendor community.


Government Technology Staff Writer Eyragon Eidam contributed to this report.