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Deltek Pulse: Justice/public safety and homeland security month in review, February 2014

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during February were camera/surveillance, radio and fire alarm. The below maps provide information on where solicitations were released during the month. 

  • Number of public safety bids: 1,117
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (122), Pennsylvania (93) and Virginia (68)
  • Keywords: camera/surveillance, radio and fire alarm

Frequency of terms

  • Surveillance: 40 (13 state; 27 local)
  • Radio: 20 (eight state; 12 local)
  • 911: 4 (zero state; four local)

The below graph provides information on the break-down of the types of entities purchasing justice and public safety technologies.

 

Trends

  • Very few projects were awarded in February; however, numerous solicitations were released.
  • Several localities decided not to release solicitations for projects, particularly radio system projects, in favor of utilizing existing contracts. Franklin County, Ohio, decided to upgrade using its current Motorola radio system, and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority executed a rider on Prince George’s County’s contract with Motorola. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management also decided not to release a solicitation for its computer-aided dispatch upgrade project as the upgrade will be sole-sourced to Tiburon.
  • A significant number of solicitations were released for consulting or planning opportunities, particularly for larger, statewide opportunities.

Notable projects

Analyst’s Take

February was a busy month at the state level, with many solicitations released – 60 more than the 1,057 released in January. Many of the solicitations were for large-scale, multi-step projects finally coming to fruition. Included in this is Massachusetts’ re-release of its next generation 911 products and services solicitation. This project was originally released in October 2013, but was canceled in December due to concerns by vendors over their ability to meet the expectations established in the RFR. The scope of work has been revised to address these concerns.

Another large procurement is the state of New Hampshire’s statewide radio system functionality and interoperability study and report. The state currently uses a VHF P25 compliant system and is looking to upgrade it. The winning consultant will be charged with completing a report on the state of the current radio system as well as providing recommendations on how to update the system. It is expected that the timeframe for both of these projects will be longer than average due to their complex nature. These and the other large projects released and updated in February have been in the works for months or, in many cases, years. It is expected that numerous updates and addenda will be released as these projects move through the solicitation process in an effort to avoid having to put the project completely on hold, like the Massachusetts 911 project. Vendors are encouraged to ask questions and attend all of the associated solicitation events, particularly site visits, to gain as much information about these projects as possible prior to submitting proposals. All vendors, even those who are not able to bid on consulting and planning portions, should pay attention to solicitation activity. By tracking consulting portions, vendors can gain an understanding of state processes as well as the scope of the project they may one day bid on.

GovWin IQ subscribers can read further about these projects in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial.

 

 

Are Feds Struggling to Move to the Cloud?

A report on cloud adoption in the federal government has been getting attention recently.  Entitled The Road Ahead: Three Years after Cloud First, the survey-based report found that since the announcement of former Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra’s Cloud First initiative in 2011, federal agencies have struggled to implement cloud computing.  As evidence one slide in particular shows that “just ten percent [of agencies] have migrated more than half of their IT portfolio to the cloud.”  Common roadblocks to adoption, survey respondents said, include a lack of staff necessary to execute agency cloud strategies and a lengthy procurement process that hinders cloud adoption.

As someone who keeps a close eye on the federal cloud market, I have to admit I wasn’t surprised by the findings.  The halting nature of agency movement to the cloud has been well documented in my posts and inreports on the federal cloud market published by the Federal Industry Analysis team.  This said, however, the picture of federal cloud adoption presented in The Road Ahead shows several disconnects between the respondents and the available data.

For example, although 49% of survey respondents said they’d moved less than 10% of their IT portfolio to the cloud, 51% of respondents said that they’d moved 11% or more of their agency’s IT portfolio to the cloud.  I found this reassuring.  It tells me that agencies are moving to the cloud as quickly as they feel comfortable making the transition.  Could they move faster?  Of course, but we need to remember who we are talking about here.  Federal agencies operate within a risk-averse environment, but early cloud mandates forced them to move quickly and without well-laid plans.  A measured pace was called for and now that they are approaching cloud on a broader scale they have the opportunity to accelerate adoption.  In addition, it’s worth noting that most agencies don’t have the goal of moving 50% or more of their IT portfolio to the cloud.  In the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy published in 2011, agencies reported that, in aggregate, only 25% of the $80B in OMB-reported IT spending was even appropriate for the cloud.  So, as agencies gather momentum they’ll be able to have more informed conversations about the cloud and this is good news for industry.

Turning to the lack of staff needed to execute cloud strategy, this is a valid concern.  Hiring freezes, retirements, and staffing cuts have had an impact on agency IT operations across the board.  But this isn’t bad news for the market as agencies are turning to vendors for help.  Here at Deltek we classify cloud efforts into several categories.  These include consulting efforts we call “cloud enabling” and “cloud strategy.”  Cloud enabling efforts involve engineering/design to make systems and applications ready for migration to the cloud.  Since FY 2009 approximately 10% of the efforts we’ve identified could be classified as cloud enabling, and this doesn’t count many of the almost 300 other efforts we classify as “pure cloud,” (i.e., actual migrations or purchases of cloud-based capabilities) that include cloud enabling type work.  Add another 21 cloud strategy efforts in which vendors are assisting agencies with developing cloud strategies and what we have is a complex picture of a market in transition.

Survey respondents also mentioned a procurement bottleneck.  Here again there seems to be a disconnect between the survey responses and the data.  Without a doubt the overall IT procurement model leaves a lot to be desired.  However, contracting shops still found ways to award cloud contracts valued at more than $20 billion dollars from FY 2009 to FY 2013.

I am bullish on the prospects for the federal cloud market because the data tells me the market is growing.  To reinforce the point here are a few statistics:
  • To date, 48 agencies have acquired or are actively procuring a cloud service.  Of these 48 agencies 30 have engaged in 3 or more cloud efforts, this includes the Department of Defense and associated Military Departments.
  • 126 cloud efforts have been private cloud deployments, whether in a private government or commercial cloud.  This compares with 85 deployments in commercial clouds and 213 efforts where the deployment type could not be identified.  These statistics reinforce findings in The Road Ahead that agencies are moving mostly to private clouds.
  • Concerning how agencies are using the cloud, five areas stick out in particular:
    • 45 efforts identified have been/are for data center services, basically hosting and computing services.
    • 34 efforts have been/are for software development, essentially development and testing environments.
    • 28 efforts have been/are for email, yet this is primarily what we hear about in the media.
    • 27 efforts are for content and data management, including database hosting, content management systems, archiving, etc.
    • 25 efforts have been for cyber security purposes, including identity access management, network access management, and continuous monitoring.

The future looks bright too.  Deltek’s cloud forecast projects that the federal cloud market will grow almost threefold from $2.2 billion in FY 2014 to $6.15 billion in FY 2018 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%.  Our data shows that agencies are actively engaging industry partners to develop cloud strategies and implement solutions that make even greater use of cloud computing in the future.  Barring any extreme setback like a massive data breach or catastrophic failure of a cloud hosting facility, I’d expect to see agencies accelerate their adoption of cloud solutions.  This can only be good news for industry and agencies alike.

 

Deltek pulse: Health care/social services January review

The first month of the 2014 saw an influx of health care and social service solicitation, approximately 150 more than in December 2013. In January, the health and human services team saw the release of nearly 750 solicitations with either health care or social services as a primary vertical. The word cloud below represents the frequency of terms in those solicitations.

As one can see from the below map, California, Texas, and Virginia saw the largest number of health and human services related solicitations, while the state of Wyoming had no related activity. Alaska released three solicitations and Hawaii released twelve.

Notable Opportunities

  • The District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance released a request for information (RFI) for a Medicaid management information system (MMIS) case management solution on January 8, 2014. The existing MMIS case management Solution, CaseNET, is independent of the MMIS, but shares the MMIS' interfaces for data related to provider, recipients, and claims.
  • Vermont canceled its integrated eligibility solution (VIEWS) design, development, and implementation request for proposals (RFP). The Agency of Human Services will revise and reissue the RFP, with an anticipated release date of March. According to Vermont's IT Strategic Plan for 2013-2018, the state estimates VIEWS to cost $115 million over 5 years.
  • The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released an RFP on January 9, 2013 for an Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits system. The state previously released an RFP for a UI system on behalf of the Southeast Consortium.
  • The Hawaii Department of Health released an RFP on January 2, 2014, for the transfer and implementation of its Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) management information system (MIS). Proposals are due on March 14, 2014 at 4 PM.
  • The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, on behalf Mountain Plains Indian Tribal Organizations NATIONS, released an RFP on January 10, 2014 for project management during the implementation phase of a new WIC MIS. The selected vendor will also serve as the project manager for the planning and implementation of WIC electronic benefit transfer (EBT) services.
  • The Washington Health Care Authority released a Request for Quotes and Qualifications (RFQQ) for Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA) Framework 3.0 and State Self-assessment advisory/consultative services on January 24, 2014. Proposals are due on February 24, 2014.
  • The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange (Access Health CT) released an RFP for a Connecticut All Payer Claims Database (APCD): Data Management Contractor on January 27, 2014.
  • The Nebraska Division of Behavioral Health released an RFP for the Division of Behavioral Health Centralized Data System. Proposals are due by 2 PM on March 21, 2014.
  • The Arkansas Department of Health released an RFP for a WIC EBT project implementation contractor on January 10, 2014.
  • The Connecticut Department of Administrative Services released an RFP for a Connecticut WIC case management system on January 27, 2014. The state is looking for the procurement, transfer, and implementation of Michigan's MI-WIC case management system.

Analyst Take

January saw a slew of opportunities released in the health care and social services space, most likely due to the end of the holiday season and beginning of a new fiscal year. States are also continuing to address any continued service delays and system errors with their health insurance exchanges (HIX). Vendors needing an updated report regarding the HIX market can find a new Deltek Industry Analysis piece here. Vendors should also be on the lookout for an upcoming Deltek report on the ever evolving MMIS market, expected later this spring.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

 

California is talking and vendors should be listening

The California Technology Agency recently stripped down its procurement process and took a hard look at what is working and what is not. The California IT Procurement Task Force recently completed an analysis, and the findings were presented this week in a webinar led by the Rosio Alvarez, head of the task force; Carlos Ramos, California Department of Technology Director and CIO; and Richard Pennington, general counsel and task force member.  

While there were many issues worth investigating, the task force focused on project approval, timeliness, and reducing complexity in the procurement process. Alvarez explained that project approval is a daunting, time-consuming step in the procurement process. The state used to require a feasibility study before every major IT endeavor, which proved to be time consuming, expensive, and not always necessary. The task force eventually ran a business process analysis and recommended removing the feasibility study requirement. Now, the state will be required to do market research to gain knowledge of the technology being procured, provide a thorough procurement plan, and develop a comprehensive budget. If the established procurement timeline is adhered to, then it is less likely that the project will fall behind. Expediting the approval process and replacing the feasibility study with simpler steps offers time saving and reduced costs while providing the same valuable information.

Currently, California has many measures in place to ensure a fair procurement that is open to all vendors, but it is not working as it should. In fact, it is decreasing the pool of vendors that can bid because the procurement process is too lengthy. This leads to the state acquiring technology that is outdated once the procurement process is all said and done. This current process is not beneficial to the vendor or the state.

In an effort to eliminate these outdated measures, the state has set a 10-month procurement goal from RFP release to contract execution. Ramos even went on to set a loftier 6-month procurement goal. He acknowledged that the timeline is not always feasible, but he’s had success with it in a recent cloud-computing procurement.

A major focus of the task force during the webinar was reducing complexity. Outdated measures, inefficient processes, and miscommunication with vendors have been an obstacle; therefore, the state went to the bidders and asked how they could better the procurement process. One answer rang clear: improve communication.

States will benefit from developing clear project goals and requirements ahead of time by determining the business problems to solve and why a new solution is needed. If the state is confident and detailed in what it wants to procure, it makes the proposal writing much easier for vendors. It also provides an opportunity to pre-screen vendors so that only the most qualified are spending time developing a bid.

California is also toying with the idea of working with potential bidders before a solicitation hits the streets. In a recent test run, the state reached out to vendors it thought were a good fit for procuring a new technology and asked them to come “live” in the California Department of Technology for a few days. The vendors observed the antiquated system, saw the problems that needed addressing, then sat down with state officials and wrote the requirements of the request for proposals (RFP) together. Vendors were then asked to submit bids for the project, and the state selected the most suitable provider. While slightly unconventional, it allowed maximum transparency for the vendors who were a good fit and gave them a say in what the state needed. It also offered valuable insight into their key competitors. This may not be the way of the future for all procurements, but it may be a successful method for more specialized projects.

In another effort to maximize communication, California has been using contract code 6611, which allows negotiations and communication all the way up to the day a contract is signed. It provides a vehicle for best and final offers as well as pre-mortem and post-mortem debriefs so that unsuccessful bidders can see who won and why.

Overall, California is making great strides to improve the procurement process. State officials want to hear what vendors have to say before, during, and after the process. They want to speed things up so that vendors can bid and win faster, and agencies can implement suitable, up-to-date technologies. Ramos acknowledged that technology is the future and California won’t be left behind.

Vendors should be vocal about wanting to be involved in California’s procurement makeover. The state is open and willing to hear bidders’ feedback, and being visible in the eyes of government will surely be beneficial. If these new measures prove successful in California, other states are sure to follow in the near future.

California procurement is going to be moving at a faster pace, and vendors need to keep up. There may be less time between requirements gathering, solicitation release, and award. By eliminating the mandatory feasibility study component, procurements will accelerate, which is bad news for consulting companies looking to win business. They will still find an opportunity to bid on larger, less defined projects where the state needs guidance, but they will be fewer and farther between. This may increase competition, so vendors need to bring their A-game.

Consultants will need to partner with larger companies to ensure they see business. Procurement roadmaps may include a feasibility study aspect in the planning of the project, so consulting companies should pair up with other bidders to win. Again, being vocal will only behoove vendors and push them to the top of California’s list.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in California in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

Deltek Pulse: General Government Services Recap December 2013

Deltek Pulse: General Government Services Recap, December 2013

Along with snow and sleet, the end of 2013 brought a flurry of procurement activity from state and local governments, with 1,226 general government solicitations with IT listed as the primary requirement released across the nation.

As the above word cloud of solicitation titles demonstrates, this month’s batch of bids has a decidedly professional services flavor, with “services,” “management,” “maintenance” and “support” all featured prominently.

Nearly one-quarter of the total bids released came out of four states: California, Texas, New York and North Carolina. Meanwhile, 10 states were responsible for more than half (700) of the total bids released in December. Six of those states (New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts and Maryland) are located on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, which is typically where procurement activity is the heaviest.

Nearly 300 of the 1,200 solicitations released in December were tagged primarily or partially with the general government vertical designation, while the K-12 and higher education verticals both churned out nearly 200 solicitations each. More than 200 of the bids released under the general government vertical had justice/public safety components, while another 126 had transportation-related requirements.

Tracked Opportunity Coverage

Massachusetts is seeking to establish a new contract for IT professional services for both solution providers and technical specialists. Previously, these services were split up into two separate contracts, but high-level state IT policymakers have decided on a consolidated approach for this iteration. The state estimates the total value of this contract will approach $100 million.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs is also purchasing an enterprise information system that will promote online collaboration and information sharing among EEA agencies, regulated businesses and individuals, environmental stakeholders, and the public.

Vendors involved in ERP saw some solicitation releases from major government entities this month. Harris County, Texas, released a solicitation for a needs assessment to replace its current ERP solution for finance, human resources, payroll and procurement. The incumbent vendor is SunGard Public Sector. The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is looking for a vendor to install and implement an ERP system as well as provide independent verification and validation services.

The telecommunications field also saw some significant activity. The Texas Department of Information Resources released a major solicitation for data communications and networking equipment and related services. Given the size and scope of the project, Deltek believes this may wind up having an eight-figure contract value, with the current estimated value of $400 million over the lifetime of the contract. Additionally, North Carolina is setting up the latest iteration of its contract for telephony premise equipment and maintenance. The state currently has nine incumbent vendors under contract for these services: Avaya, NWN Corporation, Nu-Vision Technologies, CenturyLink, Siemens AG, Toshiba Corporation, Brightstar Partners, Centrex and Bunn Communications.  

Procurement News and Analysis

New Mexico passed a law requiring all state and local governments to proactively provide contact information for their chief procurement officers by January 2014. In addition, the law requires all procurement officials to undergo state certification and training by 2015.  

In a move that caught many by surprise, the chief information officer for Cook County, Ill., resigned on December 19, citing personal reasons. The post remains vacant and county officials are scrambling to find a replacement candidate to oversee IT policy for 2014.  

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo liked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s top technology aide so much, he hired her to his own staff. Rachel Haot will serve as Governor Cuomo’s deputy secretary of technology and will help oversee the newly created Office of Information Technology Services, which has been undergoing a large-scale IT transformation effort over the past three years. On a related note, the Office of Information Technology Services appointed Mahesh Nattanmai as executive deputy chief information officer. Nattanmai starts his post on January 23 and will oversee operations for major IT services and strategic planning initiatives.  

Anyone who has picked up a copy of the Washington Post or New York Times over the past few months is likely familiar with the scandal that has enveloped Governor Chris Christie and the New York/New Jersey Port Authority as details have emerged regarding the intentional closing of bridge lanes as a form of political payback. I posted a blog in December discussing the authority’s history of transparency scandals and my attempts to get the authority to release information related to an award made for a transparency website.

GovWin IQ subscribers can read further about these projects in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial.

 

 

Deltek Pulse: Health and Human Services December in Review

As Deltek’s health and human services team wrapped up 2013, December proved to be a productive month with the release of new health and human services opportunities on par with previous months. With that backdrop, December was both a month of reflection and anticipation. Indeed, 2013 was one of the most energetic years to be involved in the health and human services market. From enrollment in health insurance exchanges to farm-bill-related food stamp drama, our vertical has experienced innovation, excitement and continued investment.

Opportunity Overview 

In December, the health and human services team saw the release of a little more than 600 solicitations with either health care or social services as a primary vertical. The word cloud below represents the frequency of terms in those solicitations. 

As one can see from the below map, California, New York and Colorado saw the largest number of health and human services-related solicitations, while 15 states had no related activity.

Notable Opportunities

Analyst’s Take 

As we look forward to 2014, there is no doubt that 2013 was merely an appetizer for the more exciting main course yet to be served in the health and human services market.

As we begin the year, our team is looking forward to the following events that could impact the health and human services vertical:

  • Continued ACA Implementation; specifically, the success or failure of health insurance exchanges
  • Extension of long-term unemployment benefits, coupled with the upcoming debt ceiling increase battle
  • The 2014 midterm elections, in which 36 states will hold gubernatorial elections. Currently, Republicans hold 29 governor mansions, while Democrats have 21. A shift in political leadership will have a significant impact on many health and human services programs

As we can see, the coming year will have plenty of political drama to keep us all entertained. However, our team continues to look forward to many new innovative projects, in the ilk of the above highlighted, coming out of states. All told, there can be no doubt that 2014 will be a stimulating year for health and human services. 

You can read more about the highlighted projects in the above links. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managed service providers: An approach to procuring IT staff augmentation services

The use of managed services provider (MSP) or supplier-managed staff augmentation contracts has increased in recent years, with at least nine states in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast using them to procure IT staff augmentation services. MSP contracts offer governments an opportunity to streamline operations and focus on core responsibilities by partnering with a vendor who manages a pool of IT professional service providers and acts as the liaison between government end users and the staffing pool. This has become especially advantageous in recessionary times due to the fact that enterprise-wide staff cuts drive the need for temporary services provided with an efficient, low administrative investment methodology.

Computer Aid Inc. (CAI), Optimal Solutions and Technologies (OST), Ask Staffing Inc., NTT Data Inc., and Teksystems Inc. are some of the full-service providers contracting with states for IT staff augmentation contracts. Vendors like these are ahead of the game in addressing the economic needs of state and local governments, specifically their managed full-service staffing programs.

Being a full-service provider typically includes planning, implementation, management and support services. Governments rely on these providers to deliver tasks such as agency consultation, vendor response management, candidate evaluation and validation, interview facilitation, onboarding, invoice processing, help desk support, and performance oversight.

 

The above diagram displays best practices CAI uses for its term contract with Delaware, found here. This model results in governments saving time, money and resources while getting competitive, fixed prices categorized by job description and skills. It also allows states to rely on a vendor to manage certain tasks while focusing their energy on larger initiatives. This model is also used by Optimal Solutions and Technologies (OST) for its term contract with Washington, D.C. Other states choose to utilize multiple vendors as full-service providers, such as Massachusetts’ IT staff augmentation contract.  

The growing trend of states using full-service providers also indicates a change in the way vendors consider participating in IT staff augmentation contracts. Vendors should be considering how they do business and exploring other ways to go about it. Touting your full-service provider status to compete in the game is one option, but many vendors still need time to catch up with those dominating the market at this point. Therefore, they should consider joining vendor network pools for IT staff augmentation contracts. They are typically free to join and a great option to win business and start strengthening your profile. 

If you want to sell to state and local governments and better understand statewide term contracts, take a look at the GovWin IQ Term Contract Resource. It will help answer questions about where your competitors hold contracts and what their pricing is. The resource also details how states qualify vendors and which governments can utilize term contracts. With more than 12,000 state IT contracts, Deltek’s term contracts resource is a great place to find upcoming opportunities, including IT staff augmentation contracts. To learn more about upcoming key term contract opportunities and Deltek’s recommendations to vendors looking to qualify for these contracts, visit Deltek’s Term Contracts Top Opportunities for FY 2014 report, here. 

Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek’s GovWin IQ database and take advantage of a free trial.

 

 

Ironies abound: Procurement for New York/New Jersey transparency website shrouded in secrecy

Last year I wrote about the New York/New Jersey Port Authority’s request for information for a comprehensive transparency website to provide the public with better insight into Port Authority operations and practices. At the time, the semi-independent organization was facing a tremendous amount of heat from both politicians and the public for its secretive and opaque approach to a myriad of hot-button issues, including toll and fare hikes, public meetings, and bonuses paid to top-level authority officials. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was hammering the organization and threatening to use his veto pen to inflict pain on the Port Authority without major changes to transparency policies. All of this posturing set the stage for the August 2012 RFI and what was supposed to be a new day of open government and transparency. 

Well, it turns out that the whole process may have been an exercise in misdirection by the agency, and my experience following up on the RFI is indicative of how the authority’s definition of “transparency” can be a little different than yours or mine. 

In December 2012, the Port Authority’s 2013 operating budget included funding for the establishment of a new Transparency Office charged with overseeing and managing “the unimpeded flow of agency information to the public.” It also established a new contracts page that did a better job of keeping the public up to date on award and contract information. 

In February 2013, the Board of Commissions officially approved a resolution adopting a new set of key operating principles for all future Port Authority operations. The very first key principle states that “The Port Authority shall proactively communicate, be transparent in its decision making, and set clear expectations upon which to measure the results of its actions.” 

In April 2013, the designated point of contact in the contracting office declined to answer any and all questions related to this RFI, including whether an open procurement had taken place or whether an award had been made. In May 2013, the Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution honoring outgoing Port Authority commissioner James P. Rubin

for, among other things, pushing “various initiatives to build on the agency’s commitment to the highest standards of accountability and transparency to the public and to promote transparent, efficient and ethical corporate governance practices and to adopt measures to adhere to the highest government accountability standards of the states of New York and New Jersey.  

Shortly after that conversation, Deltek filed its first FOIA, requesting all documents related to the establishment of a transparency website. The agency’s FOIA office sent a letter in response on May 10, 2013, informing Deltek that these documents were exempt from disclosure under Clause 2A of the Port Authority’s Freedom of Information Code. Clause 2A of the organization’s code reads that documents can be exempt from FOIA disclosure in cases where "if disclosed, would impair or give a competitive advantage in connection with, present or imminent awards or negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, leases, permits, contracts or other agreements, open procurement matters, contracts not yet awarded, unexecuted leases or permits and portions of scoring or evaluation documents not constituting a part of a final agency action document."

Careful readers of the clause will note it is worded broadly enough to encompass future bids, contract negotiations for released bids, contracts currently under negotiation, and contracts established outside the competitive bidding process. Essentially, the Port Authority doesn’t need to comment on or release documents for procurement at any stage of the procurement process except after it has been awarded. 

Setting aside the obvious irony of an organization doing everything it can to avoid being transparent about the procurement of a website specifically designed to increase transparency, what is most amazing here is that the agency has carved out an exception from FOIA disclosure so large that it can encompass virtually any procurement or contract it handles until the point where it is far too late for vendors who are shut out of the process to do anything about it. 

In the interests of absolute fairness, I called the authority’s procurement office again before sitting down to write this piece in the hopes of gaining some kind of insight into what had happened with this project. This time, the office confirmed that an award had been for the requirements set forth in the RFI, but then categorically declined to provide any information about the award. Instead, the contracts officer claimed that the procurement office was not the “proper channel” for ANY questions regarding award or contract information, and that only the FOIA office was empowered to do so. I’ll repeat that because it bears repeating: The procurement office for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is “not empowered” to discuss procurements or awards made through procurements. 

Of course, it is not just procurement matters where the Port Authority has taken heat for a lack of openness. A quick Google search using the terms “Port Authority of New York and New Jersey” and “transparency” shows that this is more or less how Port Authority officials approach most issues regarding transparency and disclosure, whether the inquiries come from private citizens, businesses and even lawmakers tasked with oversight of the organization. 

Analyst’s Take

So let’s review here. We have an RFI for increased transparency that the purchasing office was instructed not to comment on; an entity that, to this day, operates in a manner so secretive that state political officials charged with oversight cannot get answers on matters that directly affect their constituent; a procurement office that explicitly rejects any claim that it is empowered to discuss procurements or award information, and insists that only the FOIA office can answer award questions; and, finally, a FOIA office that exempts contract and award information from disclosure.

Earlier this week, the chairman of the New Jersey State Assembly Transportation Committee released the following statement regarding his attempts to induce Port Authority officials to release information regarding lane closures in September:

“Despite a budget that exceeds that of more than half of the states in this country, the Port Authority has become an agency that operates with little accountability and no transparency. It has lost sight of what it means to serve the public and I intend to continue my pursuit of the truth about this matter as well as the long list of other issues that have raised questions and concerns about the agency’s operations and management.”

Deltek has re-filed a FOIA for contract and award information for this project since the justifications given under Clause 2A of the Port Authority’s FOI code should theoretically no longer apply, unless the office can make an argument that releasing awarded contract information would in some way impair or give a competitive advantage to vendors. The results of that FOIA request will be published on theTracked Opportunity page that was created to follow the initial RFI. 

In the meantime, vendors should take this information in context when doing future business with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. There is no substitute for being the first in the door with these contracts, as it can give you the ability to shape and restrict others from that business or knowledge. Of course, a far better alternative would be a Port Authority that takes its own statements and objectives regarding transparency seriously. Failing that, unless you are the selected vendor, chances are you will be more or less in the dark before, during and after the procurement process takes place. 

 

Deltek pulse: Justice/public safety and homeland security November review

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during November were camera/surveillance, fire alarm and radio. The below word cloud provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.

  • Number of public safety bids: 1,383
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (130), Pennsylvania (118) and Texas (81)
  • Keywords: camera/surveillance, fire alarm and radio

Frequency of terms

  • Surveillance: 32 (seven state; 25 local)
  • Radio: 15 (four state; 11 local)
  • 911: 6 (three state; three local)

Number of opportunities by location 

  • State: 573
  • County: 387
  • City: 305
  • University: 22
  • Other: 96

Trends

  • Public safety software suites continued to trend in November with several localities releasing solicitations for these technology systems, including Forsyth County, Ga., and College Station, Texas
  • A lack of funding continues to hamper projects across agencies and technological requirements. Unfortunately, many localities do not believe the situation will improve much in the next year
  • Radio projects continue to move forward in many locations with solicitations planned for release in 2014. The majority of these projects will be P25-compliant

Notable projects

Analyst’s Take

November saw a sharp rise in the number of solicitations released compared to October.  In total, 306 more justice and public safety solicitations were released. Despite the holiday, many of these solicitations were released toward the end of the month; however, many of them also have longer-than-usual timeframes for response, with many proposals not due until well into January. This trend occurred across all JPS procurements, particularly for radio-based technologies.

Many localities and states that were among the first wave to upgrade their radio systems when the narrowbanding requirement was released nearly 10 years ago are now in need of system and equipment upgrades. This has led to solicitations being released for system and equipment upgrades – a trend that is likely to continue in 2014.

November also saw an increase in solicitations for systems used by correctional facilities. This is indicative of a larger trend that shows corrections departments increasing their reliance on technology and moving forward with technology projects such as electronic monitoring, inmate phone systems and larger jail/case management systems.

Vendors should keep in mind that, in many cases, it is no longer sufficient to simply fulfill police departments’ technological needs. It is also essential to provide fully integrated solutions capable of tracking the full chain of custody from arrest through sentencing and incarceration. Vendors who are not in a position to provide fully-integrated solutions should begin building teaming relationships with other vendors to ensure their proposals are as strong as possible.

Deltek Pulse: Health and Human Services November in Review

November brought continued scrutiny on the federal health insurance exchange implemented by CGI. The rollout of the online portals has been rather rocky for many states that gave facilitation to the feds. During the first month’s launch, only 106,000 Americans were able to successfully enroll in health insurance plans utilizing the federal exchange. This awfully low number is forcing the Obama administration to lower its original goal of 800,000 enrollees in the first two months.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) along with CGI and other IT vendors used November to make extensive fixes to the system in hopes of a more streamlined, less frustrating experience for users by December 1. So far, enrollment has been notably better than October, and more changes to the portal will undoubtedly be made in the months to come.

Opportunity Overview

In November, the health and human services team saw the release of more than 1,000 solicitations with either health care or social services as a primary vertical. The word cloud below represents the frequency of terms in those solicitations. 

As you can see below, California, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania are among the states with the highest number of health and human services-related solicitations, while Wyoming, Indiana, and Arkansas had little to none.

Notable Opportunities

Kentucky canceled its request for proposals (RFP) to procure a Medicaid enterprise management system (MEMS) and fiscal agent, but plans to re-release the RFP in the future. The current contract with HP Enterprises is set to expire in November 2014.

Vermont awarded a contract for its Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) management information system (MIS), electronic benefit transfer (EBT) project to Ciber, Inc. The contract is valued at $2.5 million.

Connecticut awarded 21st Century Technologies Inc. for fraud detection and prevention services. The contract has a 26-month base and is set to expire in November 2016.

California released a request for information (RFI) for health care price transparency services. The state will be utilizing funding under the “Grants to States to Support Health Insurance Rate Review and Increase Transparency in Health Care Pricing, Cycle III” to secure services that will collect and analyze health care cost and quality information.

Colorado released an RFI for recovery audit contractor medical services. RFI responses are due on December 6, 2013. The selected contractor will analyze and review Medicaid and Colorado Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) claims, and provide post-payment review services to help identify fraud, waste and abuse.

Analyst’s Take

Despite the holidays, November and December are typically filled with a significant amount of activity in the state and local government contracting arena. Most states’ top priority is to get their health insurance marketplaces running successfully, especially since the final day of open enrollment (March 31, 2014) is not too far away. This will certainly be the case for the feds as well. 

In the coming months, vendors can expect to see more requests for information and services relating to not only fixes or enhancements to insurance exchange systems, but also for upgrading or implementing existing health-related IT systems that must interface with state-based or federal portals. For that, contractors should continue to pay attention to enrollment numbers across the states, in addition to issues arising with the exchange launch. Showcasing desirable solutions for states to adopt will be critical in securing business.

Deltek's Health Care and Social Services Team will be releasing a report in January to provide an update on statewide implementation efforts for exchanges. In the meantime, be sure to check out Deltek’s Health Insurance Exchange Vertical Profile Application to learn more about the ACA's initiative. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.  

 

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