Multi-state cooperative procurement means more choices for public-sector IT

It’s all about options! And, in the public-sector information technology (IT) world, state and local government executives view having choices as a key driver in their ability to reduce IT costs and improve services to taxpayers.

Photo by Steve Johnson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Steve Johnson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What is being called a “groundbreaking procurement” involving 35 states has resulted in 38 initial master agreement awards for Cloud Solutions procurement for participating state and local (city and county) governments and public education entities. Through the cooperative purchasing agreement, government chief information officers (CIOs) will have a wide range of cloud solutions available – including all software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Some of the offerings that will be available as a result are cloud-based phone systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) modules, data analytics, security services and programs to mitigate fraud, waste and abuse.

The procurement effort was facilitated by the state of Utah and cooperative purchasing firm NASPO ValuePoint, an arm of the National Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO).  NASPO ValuePoint’s mission is to ensure reliable, competitively sourced and best-value contracts for states. Also assisting was a team of state procurement and IT professionals from eight states, guided by information provided by state CIOs.

Not only will the cooperative purchasing agreement allow state and local governments more options, the ability to reduce costs and improve services, but because the cloud providers will be assessed every two years, the cloud services will also continue to be updated.

One key element that makes IT personnel nervous about using the cloud is security of the information stored there. But the firms awarded contracts all must meet data security and protection requirements. Participating government entities have hailed the work of the state of Utah to ensure that these safety and security measures are part of the contracts entered into by the states.

Use of the master awards for cloud services will begin as soon as state and local government participation addendums between the state and a cloud solutions provider are signed. States not already part of the agreement need only submit a participating addendum against the master agreement.

NASPO officials say this multi-state agreement with the number of options available is “unparalleled in government IT.”

Currently, the following states have chosen to participate in the purchasing agreement: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Mississippi.

Also: Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Cooperative agreements have long been a mainstay for government entities seeking to stretch their dwindling dollars and to ensure best value for products and services. NASPO officials note that now that initial awards are underway, they are receiving interest from additional states beyond the original 35.