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Pennsylvania’s DPW Seeks Multiple Services Under an IT Support and Services Procurement

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) released a request for proposals (RFP) on June 22, 2010 for Information Technology (IT) Support and Services for DPW. A pre-proposal conference will be held on July 12, 2010. Questions are due by July 16, 2010. Proposals are due by August 23, 2010.

Background: DPW has wide-ranging responsibilities, including eligibility determination, child welfare, child support enforcement, and benefits delivery. The department's function in recent years has shifted towards client management where technology plays a crucial role in adhering to ever-changing business requirements and policies. In order to provide more comprehensive, holistic support services, the department is moving away from siloed systems to a more integrated platform.

Requirements: The department is requesting services for seven separate lots divided into three service types: IT consulting services (lots 1-5), systems architecture services (lot 6), and technical support services (lot 7). Vendors may propose on multiple lots, but no vendor will be awarded both the IT consulting services and technical support services lots. The seven lots are as follows:

  • Lot 1 - Eligibility Systems IT Consulting Services
  • Lot 2 - Provider Management IT Consulting Services
  • Lot 3 - Case Management IT Consulting Services
  • Lot 4 - Child Welfare IT Consulting Services
  • Lot 5 - Child Support Enforcement IT Consulting Services
  • Lot 6 - Systems Architecture Services
  • Lot 7 - Technical Support Services
Funding/Contract Value: GovWin estimates the value of this opportunity to be approximately $15 million to $30 million based on projects similar in size and scope.

For further details on the IT Support and Services project, please see GovWin Opportunity #54988.

GovWin's Take:

The procurement model, whereby the state will award the lots separately or in some combination, will enable the state to select a best-of-breed cohort of vendors to assist with the varied services requested. The strategy provides an opportunity for smaller players to get a piece of the pie. This also promotes teaming and networking to develop valuable partnerships that could span into future collaborations.

Patient-Centered Medical Home Demonstration Projects

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is currently accepting applications from states through August 3, 2010 for Multi-payer Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstrations (MAPCP), also known as patient-centered medical homes (PCMH). Demonstrations are aimed at improving care coordination and quality outcomes, in addition to developing and implementing multi-payer reform initiatives. These projects have been touted as a model for addressing flaws in the health care delivery system, such as quantity versus quality. Efforts align with President Obama's health care reform overhaul and will be spearheaded by state Medicaid agencies and/or health departments. Other stakeholders include private health plans, self-insured employer-sponsored health plans, and eventually Medicare.

Some states and localities have already been working on home health pilot projects and have the opportunity to submit an application to participate and expand their current efforts. For example, Vermont's Blueprint Integrated Pilot Program, which has been in place for several years, is aimed at chronic care management and prevention. In May 2010, Harvard Medical School evaluated 26 existing demonstration projects and found many had adopted a three-part payment model: Fee-for-service payments, a fixed, monthly case management fee, and potential bonuses based on clinical performance. Other findings included substantial diversity in the pilots' design and a lack of evaluation plans in several projects. The CMS MAPCP program requires an evaluation plan to monitor performance and gather feedback from participating groups to understand the impact on utilization, expenditures, access to care, and the quality of care.

GovWin's Take:

The demonstration projects will provide an opportunity to initiate advanced health care reform at the state level. Vendors will serve as valuable partners in evaluating and monitoring programs. In addition, health IT systems will play a crucial role in facilitating care coordination, timeliness, and improved patient-provider communication. Vendors providing health IT solutions should work closely with stakeholders to understand end-goals and objectives to ensure system flexibility.

Indianapolis Launches $16 million ERP Project

After almost two years of planning and project development, the city of Indianapolis recently awarded its long-awaited enterprise resource planning (ERP) system contracts. This project is a success considering the many failed attempts state and local governments have had with trying to implement similar projects. City officials believe they can buck that trend by keeping the project's focus on business process improvements instead of technological issues that doomed previous attempts.

Many city officials feel the new ERP system is long overdue. It will replace an antiquated and increasingly inadequate 30-year-old mainframe-based IT environment. Although the city government and surrounding Marion County government have functioned as a consolidated entity for 40 years, both have maintained separate planning and development systems. With the new plan, these systems will merge into one large ERP system that will manage accounting, procurement, human resources, and payroll. The new system is designed to save money while streamlining business processes and providing greater data availability and long-term technology. Full implementation of the system is expected within three years.

Two awards were made for the project: The first, for implementation and integration of the technology, was awarded to New York-based Zannet, Inc. The actual mainframe planning system was awarded to Oracle Corporation. Both opportunities and announcements are being tracked by GovWin. (ERP System-Oracle, Implementation-Zannet, Inc.)

EBT Food Stamps as an Economic Development Tool?

I have long said one of the best forms of intelligence for the state and local IT marketplace is local newspapers. They help you understand the commonality of problems faced by state and local governments, public schools and universities. Newspapers also expose you to unique, non-IT-oriented insights not found in the government IT trade press.

For example, a USDA deputy secretary is visiting a farmer's market that has found a unique way to help its sellers do business with those who are using electronic benefit transfer (EBT) food stamps. Normally, only grocers with credit card capabilities can serve this customer base. Farmers' markets are generally cash only.

If you read GovWin's report on waste, fraud and abuse, you know we recommend increased use of electronic transaction mechanisms to verify incidents of services, pre-empt fraud, and provide real-time transactional data for performance management using business intelligence (BI) tools.

If you read GovWin's report on the governors' state of the state addresses, you know governors are keen to capture as much revenue for local businesses as possible. The use of EBT is a good example of how to capture federally collected dollars for a purely local economic interest. It's a niche-y example, for sure, but one that can open our eyes to the secondary economic development potential of EBT. In times like these, no possible business justification is too small to consider.

State and Local GSA Schedule 70 Orders Drop in Q2 FY 2010

The General Services Administration released numbers on state and local government's use of GSA Schedule 70 (what GSA calls its Cooperative Purchasing Program) for Q2 of federal FY 2010. As GovWin forecasted in the recent S&L GSA Schedule Use through Q1 FY 2010 Industry Insight, orders have tempered slightly in Q2 compared to Q1. This reflects the continued scrutiny of spending at the state and local level during revenue shortfalls and budget crunches in nearly every state.

Despite negative growth quarter-to-quarter, S&L Schedule 70 orders remain up 10% year-over-year.

For more information on which hardware, software, and services companies are selling to states and locals through Schedule 70, and what the future holds for cooperative purchasing in the state and local market, check out the recent Industry Insight report.

GovWin Launches WIC Program

On Monday, June 21, 2010, GovWin launched its newest offering within the social services vertical solution: The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. WIC is a federal assistance program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). WIC provides health care and nutrition for low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five. The program has grown steadily since its inception. In 1974, total participation in the program was 88,000, compared to an estimated 9.1 million in 2009.

Two hot technologies within the WIC program that GovWin is tracking are the WIC management information systems (WIC MIS) and WIC electronic benefit transfer (WIC EBT) systems. Right now, there are 14 states planning or transferring WIC MIS, and 16 states planning EBT systems. This increased amount of opportunities is due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The WIC program received $500 million in stimulus funding, with $400 million going directly into benefits. The remaining $100 million went to establish, improve, or administer WIC MIS to include changes necessary to meet new legislative or regulatory requirements.

Funding was released in three waves, with the first totaling $34 million for existing EBT/WIC MIS projects. The second included $8.5 million for new EBT planning and WIC MIS transfer projects. The final wave covered any remaining technology projects, which included planning for new clinic systems, upgrading to Web-based systems, system enhancements to incorporate new program requirements, modernizing for future EBT implementation, equipment upgrades/replacements, etc. In total, 53 technology projects were funded under the ARRA, with 41 states receiving funding.

Talk to your member advisor today to find out more about GovWin's vertical solutions and the new WIC program offering. Recently, GovWin released a report examining the WIC program and the contracting opportunities available to venders. The report, The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), is available here. In concert with the report and product launch, GovWin will host a webinar on WIC on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Solano County to Release a RFP for an EHR System

The California County of Solano Department of Mental Health plans to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the implementation of an electronic health record (EHR) system. The department submitted a funding request for $2.1 million as part of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) technology project in April 2010. The release of the RFP is expected sometime in July 2010. A tentative date for the project's award is set for November/December 2010. Complete implementation of the system is expected by fall 2012.

The Solana County Mental Health Division's mission is to provide mental health services and support that is person-centered, safe, effective, efficient, timely and equitable. In addition to promoting wellness and recovery, the division strives to fully incorporate shared decision making between consumers, family members and providers.

EHR systems are expected to assist health professionals with multiple daily tasks, including scheduling and management of appointments, documenting client interactions, and helping with the standardization of policies and procedures. Solano County's EHR system plans to include applications for scheduling and tracking appointments, templates for electronic assessments, e-prescribing capabilities, and management of billing processes. GovWin is currently tracking the project here.

GovWin Attends 2010 NENA 9-1-1 Conference & Trade Show

Last week, I attended the 2010 National Emergency Number Association's (NENA) 9-1-1 Conference & Trade Show in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NENA conference is a gathering of thousands of 9-1-1 public safety professionals. GovWin's justice and public safety (JPS) team attends this conference annually to take part in the event's great networking and educational opportunities.

As an analyst, I spend quite a bit of time utilizing internet and telephone research, and this type of event offers a refreshing opportunity to interact with industry peers face-to-face. I was able to meet with quite a few GovWin members at the trade show. This year, many of the exhibiting vendors sent members of their engineering and project management departments to speak directly with government attendees and address their needs.

The highlight of my trip was completing the pre-conference course, Grant Management for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP). The course was taught by Donna Brown, public safety communications regional coordinator for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, and covered grant applications, grant management and grant locating. I learned quite a bit during this session, including the amount of private and foundation grants available, the most common application mistakes (some people still handwrite their applications!?), and the traits of successful grant applications.

The most interesting aspect of the course was interacting with government officials. Almost all attendees were PSAP managers and it was fascinating to hear how the nature of the position differs based on regional constraints, such as budget cuts and population growth. Attendees represented a wide variety of locations, from nearby Indiana counties, to Northern Virginia, to one attendee who was from Guam. Further pre-conference courses included 9-1-1 Center Consolidations and PSAP Design. I would highly recommend all of the pre-conference courses to anyone interested in increasing their knowledge of the 9-1-1 industry.

GovWin's JPS team will continue its involvement with the NENA organization in the coming months. I was recently selected to give a presentation, titled "Public Safety Communications Grants: A Comprehensive Overview," at the Arizona APCO/NENA State Training Conference on July 19, 2010. This presentation will highlight opportunities for local public safety officials to find federal funding for their communications projects. Additionally, I was selected by the Colorado Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) to make a similar presentation at its annual conference this October. Stay tuned to the GovWin B2G Blog for more information on these conferences.

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell Vetoes Consolidated Dispatch Bill for all the Right Reasons

Today, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed a bill aimed at merging dispatch centers in towns with populations of 40,000 or fewer. The bill, which called for a study on such a merger, looked to cut costs and improve emergency services in the state's smaller towns. While the veto came with some scrutiny, it was mostly well received among smaller agencies. The reason for the veto, as outlined by Rell, was that the bill did not propose a strong enough infrastructure to make the change possible. Rell, who is a proponent of regionalization, suggested this type of merger should be handled at the local level using an incentive-based approach rather than a government mandate. This would allow the agencies to customize plans to better suit their jurisdictions.

Recently, many government officials have been scrutinized for not reading bills before voting on them. However, this was not one of those cases, as the governor clearly understood the implications of such consolidation. As stated by many, this bill actually has the potential of increasing costs and burdening smaller, cash-strapped towns. Had it passed, the bill requested another study be conducted on the technological implications of consolidation. The plan would have been to merge all agencies in a region onto the same software. From an operational perspective, this sounds simple and quite logical. However, the costs of moving each agency onto the same software would be extremely high, especially for agencies that recently purchased new dispatching software.

Rell's spokesman Adam Liegeot said it is possible the legislation could be revisited on June 21, 2010, but it remains to be seen whether this bill will be included. As we have seen before, the consolidation of dispatching services has just as many opponents as it does supporters. Many agencies see cost savings as the top priority, but neglect to realize the impact it will have on infrastructure and response time.

The FCC and FEMA National Emergency Alerting Workshop Overview

On June 10, 2010, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a workshop called 21st Century Emergency Alerting: Leveraging Multiple Technologies to Bring Alerts and Warnings to the Public. The focal point of the conference, held at the FCC's Washington, D.C. facility, examined the evolution and shift of next generation alerting and the dissemination of emergency information to the public as technology progresses.

The conference consisted of two panels discussions. Division Director of the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Antwane Johnson moderated a discussion on the current state of public alerts and warnings. The presentation focused on integration of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) into the IPAWS.

Jeffery Goldthorp chief of the communications systems analysis division of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), moderated a panel discussion on how broadband technologies can be used by IPAWS to redefine alert distribution technologies, such as EAS and CMAS. The group keyed in on how using Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to its full potential will help develop a broadband-based, multi-platform alerting system.

The conference shed light on current issues and concerns being raised through the work of the FCC, FEMA and industry leaders. Panel representatives from the FCC and FEMA outlined progress that has been made and what still needs to be done to achieve a next generation national alerting system.

Further concerns were voiced regarding the government-mandated 180 day clock as too limited a time period, how and what types of training for operators, clarification of codes, the creation of system standardizations, and how to deal with different state platforms. Questions about the alert system itself, such as what languages and how many would be utilized, and what alerting formats (text, video) would be available, were also raised.

The alert's 90-character limit and the function of the alerting message was addressed, along with disagreements over how the public will find secondary information using either television and radio or social networks. The 90-character limit will be utilized as a "bell ringer" for the public to recognize there is an emergency. This will do one of two things; 1) alert the public to get to safety, or 2) alert the public to go to a secondary information source for further details on the emergency. This second action did bring up discussion as to where people will go to find secondary information details. No resounding decision on television and radio versus social networks was arrived at. Lastly, the panel discussed the 2011 national alerting test exercise and what steps the FCC and FEMA must take before it can occur.

Moving forward with the Next Generation National Alerting System, the FCC and FEMA will need to address the concerns raised by industry to continue their work on 21st century alerting. Though no concrete information was disseminated regarding how the FCC and FEMA would address the concerns put forth by industry members; representatives of both agencies did wholeheartedly appreciate the discussions of the two panels that day, and were very interested in further collaboration.

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