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Modernizing local government website procurement

Posted on March 29, 2018

Local Government Website RFP Template

Local government digital services procurement is in dire need of an overhaul, so we’re working to help reform this by creating a modern day government website request for information/proposal/quote template that replaces the antiquated, traditional approach.

Procuring local government websites is much different than buying infrastructure, however, many municipalities still treat digital technology purchases the same way they buy roads and bridges: large, expensive upfront costs with long project timeframes.

Unfortunately, most government requests for information/proposals/quotes are borrowed from templates created years or decades ago, or from proprietary ones produced by a specific vendor, that contain highly-specified requirements and processes that reference outdated technology practices or limit more long-term, sustainable possibilities. These generally don’t account for modern technology offerings and many, in their antiquity, unintentionally exclude products like ProudCity from being able to respond.

But with modern technology solutions, especially true software-as-a-service, now readily-available to local governments, leaders are rethinking a procurement approach that truly serves the best interests of their communities.

As San Rafael Senior Management Analyst Rebecca Woodbury wrote for ELGL on her city’s efforts to modernize procurement:

“We discovered that we need to change the way we procure technology. So, now we are embarking on a new journey: updating our process so we can more easily procure the technology of now and the future. Our staff requires 21st century tools because the community deserves 21st century service.”

At the federal level, the U.S. Digital Service’s TechFAR Hub has created an excellent set of guiding procurement principles that provide an innovative approach to buying and deploying modern government technology:

  1. Emphasize project missions and challenges to attract the best vendor talent. Great digital service providers are often motivated by the magnitude of the problems they can solve when they work for the government.
  2. Pay for results, not time. A working product is the ultimate metric of success.
  3. Don’t lock technical requirements into contracts so that new, more effective technologies and methods are not blocked.
  4. Buy design and software development services as a repeated process for the delivery of a working product. Technological enhancements never end.
  5. Determine how much of the budget to invest in finding the right solution. Only continue investing in the solution if value is demonstrated.
  6. Buy small, build small, test, and iterate. Set up each contract for a quick win, then determine how to scale that success or pivot quickly.
  7. Leverage the efficiency of commercial contracting methods. If and when possible, use services and tools sold by private sector vendors.
  8. Choose diverse teams that have demonstrated success in developing trust, accountability, and navigating cultural barriers. Evaluate demonstrated coding skills and quality of previous delivery expertise as an indicator for future performance.
  9. Get solutions into the hands of users quickly. Incorporate accessibility, security, and usability testing into the process to avoid bottlenecks.

To help municipalities best follow these principles and better procure the right technology for the times, we created the government website procurement template. Licensed under Creative Commons, this template is free for any government to re-use and/or re-purpose as they see fit.

The purpose of this government website procurement template is to help governments better purchase modern digital services. This template is a resource to save governments valuable time and frame the technology purchase conversation around recommendations from the experts on how to achieve the end goals.

Just like modern technology projects, we’ll continue to iterate on the template, making it better over time. We highly encourage public input and feedback, either in the document, via the GitHub repository or directly to us via email ([email protected]).

It’s time for both industry and government leaders to build a better procurement process for digital services at all levels of government.

This is the first component of our ongoing work to provide more clarity into how local governments can provide the most sustainable, affordable and effective technology to the communities they serve.

Learn more about and download the government website procurement template:

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