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Snapshots of Race to the Top Procurements: Overview

The Race to the Top (RTTT) program strived to spark education reform in state and local K-12 school districts by inviting states to compete for $4 billion in federal funding. RTTT's criteria forces states to replace outdated systems and ineffective assessments by investing in modern education technologies, content, and systems to ensure classroom instruction is more efficient and effective.

GovWin will publish a blog series on each of the second-round RTTT winners (District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Hawaii) to highlight each state's potential for government contract opportunities.

The RTTT award amounts are based on population and range from $75 million for Hawaii, to $700 million for New York state. How these funds are utilized will depend on how far along states are in meeting RTTT criteria. Some states, like Massachusetts, are still in the planning stages of their statewide longitudinal data system, while others, like the District of Columbia, have disjointed systems that need to integrate into a standardized district-wide longitudinal data system. Upon preliminary analysis, it appears there will be many upcoming bids requesting assistance to satisfy the RTTT's reform criteria, with a focus on expanding and improving data systems and standards and assessment systems.

RTTT funds will be distributed to the states over a four-year period, with the first year of funding allocation scheduled for 2011. Since states have the large task of implementing these statewide educational reforms; all second-round winners are building an internal infrastructure (via agency or commission) to ensure these programs and projects are proficiently executed.

This highly successful program may have a second wind; the Department of Education has a pending request in Congress for an additional $1.35 billion for a third round of RTTT funding. This is exciting news for the remaining 26 states that submitted applications for RTTT funds, but did not make the first two cuts. This is also big news for vendors interested in bidding on potential projects of new awardees.

As the current winning states navigate through this RTTT transition, GovWin will monitor each state's progress and identify any opportunities that may be of interest to our members.

Procurement Changes in Illinois

If you've noticed finding information on Illinois procurements has gotten more difficult - rest assured it's not personal - it's just the law. Buried within Senate Bill 51, or the Local Government Electronic Reverse Auction Act, is a section detailing new procurement communications reporting requirements that affect state employees. Here's the gist of the bill that became active July 1, 2010: Any written or oral request received by a state employee regarding a procurement (or upcoming procurement) needs to be reported to the Procurement Policy Board. The report is detailed and requires the identity of each person who received the information request; the individual or entity represented by that person; any action or information that was requested; a detailed summary of the points made by each person involved in the communication; duration of the discussion; and the numbers for callers if requested via phone. The Procurement Policy Board must then make the report available on its website within seven days of receiving the document.

The communication section is just a small part of the new law, which overhauls the way Illinois procures goods and services. One major reason for the change is the visible abuse of state procurement practices and several corruption scandals involving high-ranking officials in the past few years. While this may seem a no-win situation for vendors interested in upcoming projects, Illinois has floated the idea of starting regular vendor conferences as early as this winter to discuss projects and answer vendor questions. These sessions will most likely be recorded and uploaded to the Procurement Policy Board website. This law does not seem to affect county and city officials, so vendors tapping the local market may still be in luck. Full text of the bill can be found here.

LA RICS Update

The Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA RICS) procurement is, without a doubt, 2010's largest public safety technology project and continues to garner headlines even after the request for proposals (RFP) process closed on August 4, 2010. This week, the LA RICS Authority was awarded $154,640,000 in federal grant funding for the LA-SafetyNet project. This grant provides the LA RICS project with the necessary funding to utilize its FCC waiver for the 700MHZ spectrum for broad banding. The 700MHZ spectrum will serve as the backbone for a variety of LA RICS applications, including:

• Improved computer-aided dispatch systems

• Real-time streaming video

• Rapid searches of law enforcement records

• Patient tracking applications

In terms of the procurement process, proposal evaluation is currently in high gear. Proposals are being reviewed by a seven-member evaluation team. With an estimated $600 million contract at stake, the procurement "cone of silence" is in full effect. The members of the team are anonymous and working at an undisclosed location. The evaluation process is expected to be complete by December 2010, with contract negotiations lasting until August 2011. This period falls in line with the annual Association of Public Safety Communications Officials' (APCO) national conference. Since APCO gathers all of the key players in the public safety communications industry, it will be interesting to observe attendee reactions should an award be announced during the conference (or at least observing the reps of submitting companies furiously checking their BlackBerrys).

The vendor who wins this contract will have plenty to celebrate in terms of new business, along with a tremendous amount of work ahead of them. I will continue to follow this project closely, so expect to see more LA RICS coverage on GovWin's blog in the coming months.

GovWin Pulse: Health Care and Human Services September Review

A major focus in September was the Department of Health and Human Services' recent announcement of federal funding for states to develop strategic plans for their Affordable Care Act requires these exchanges to be operational in each state by 2014. These "one-stop-shops" will help alleviate Americans' struggle with the costs of health coverage by finding affordable options. Applications for the grant were due on September 1, 2010, and awarded states will receive up to $1 million in funds. States like Oregon are working on plans for their exchange. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), in conjunction with the Oregon Health Policy Board (OHPB), asked for public GovWin on the state's Comprehensive Plan for Health Reform, which includes the health insurance exchange. Comments are due by the end of September 2010.

In other big September news, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced $42.5 million in funding for Public Health Systems. The grant will fund 94 new projects throughout the country. The grant is part of the National Public Health Improvement Program (NPHIP), which contains two major components: 1) Addressing performance management improvement. 2) Enhancing efforts to effect public health system changes that improve public health impact. California's health departments will receive the most funding ($2,060,128 for the state and $1,859,950 for Los Angeles County).

On the social services side, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced awarded technology grants of approximately $14 million to 13 states for their Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Programs (WIC). The grants will assist states in their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) implementation. The effort is part of the Obama administration's goal of ensuring all Americans have access to proper nutrition. The grants are expected to increase the effectiveness of WIC and its benefits. New York state was awarded $400,000 for EBT planning. The New York Department of Health (NYDOH), Bureau of Supplemental Food Program received approval from the USDA for its planning and advanced planning document (PAPD).

Noteworthy request for proposals (RFPs) released this month:

  • Texas- The Texas Department of State Health Services released a request for offers (RFO) on September 8, 2010 for the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Systems for Nontraditional Retail Outlets. Proposals are due on December 8, 2010.
  • Texas- The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) released an RFP on September 17, 2010 for Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Services. Proposals are due on October 25, 2010.
  • New York- The city of New York Human Resources Administration (HRA) Office of Customized Assistance Services released an RFP on September 8, 2010 for a Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment, Rehabilitation and Employment (WeCARE) Program. Proposals are due on December 1, 2010.
  • Nebraska- The Nebraska Administrative Services, Material Division and Purchasing Bureau, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services released an RFP on September 8, 2010 for Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) Consulting Services. Proposals are due on October 8, 2010.
  • Oklahoma- The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) released an RFP on September 14, 2010 for Consulting Services for a Technology Based Overpayment Prevention, Detection and Collections System for Benefit Payment Control (BPC). Proposals are due on October 7, 2010.

Significant projects coming up:

  • Washington, D.C.- The District of Columbia Department of Health's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program will be releasing an RFP for consulting and planning services.
  • Indiana- The state of Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning (OMPP) will be procuring for Customer Relationship Management for the MMIS Replacement Project.
  • Mississippi- The Mississippi Department of Health, Division of Medicaid is currently working on an RFP for Asset Verification System services.
  • Nevada- The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Welfare and Supportive Services released a request for information (RFI) on September 27, 2010 for Asset Verification Services. RFI responses are due on October 25, 2010.
  • North Dakota- The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) released an RFI on August 30, 2010 for a statewide public health information System. RFI Responses were due on September 24, 2010.

GovWin's Take:

September brought opportunities for states to receive funding in planning and implementation efforts for major systems mandated under the Health Reform Act. In the months to come, states will be heavily involved in finalizing plans for executing health insurance exchanges, public health system developments, and EBTs.

Strategies to Combat Inmate Cell Phone Use Gaining Steam

Over that past two years, GovWin's Justice & Public Safety team has kept a close eye on the movement to utilize technology that prevents inmates from using cell phones in prison. Today, we highlight three notable projects making headlines lately.

On August 24, 2010, the state of California released a request for information (RFI) for Cell Phone Interdiction. The state seeks vendor demonstrations on technology to prohibit the use of cell phones at state prisons. RFI responses were due September 7, 2010. The California state prison system is by far the largest in the nation and successful implementation of either cell phone blocking or detection technology could set the standard nationwide. GovWin Opp ID 57656.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has a goal to procure a system that targets the location of cell phones within jails. While many jails use more traditional tools, such as metal detectors and dogs, this system could electronically detect the presence of a cell phone. Proposals were released in June 2010 and due October 1, 2010, although the State has indicated to GovWin that the due date may be extended. GovWin Opp ID 64469.

Since August 6, 2010, the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman has utilized a managed access system that functions as a hybrid between cell phone detection and cell phone jamming. This system functions at the cell tower, deciphers between authorized and unauthorized cell numbers, and prevents unauthorized calls from being transmitted to the cell carrier's system. This access system essentially stops the call at the source. GovWin Opp ID 58714.

As the FCC continues to debate the merits of allowing cell phone jamming technologies, it will be interesting to observe whether more states continue to go their own route in using technology to combat cell phone use in prison, or wait for the FCC's final word.

Data Center Consolidation and the Washington Statewide Data Center

Due in large to the struggling economy, many state and local government entities are looking for ways to streamline operations. Some are turning to server virtualization, while others are implementing cloud computing practices. Several states, including Washington, are choosing to consolidate their data centers.

The state of Washington's Department of Information Services (DIS) has been working on a state data center that would move DIS services to a newly constructed - 60,000 square foot - statewide data center. Eventually, the data center will be the cornerstone of a streamlined, consolidated IT infrastructure.

DIS awarded a contract for consulting services to develop an implementation plan for the movement of the center to INX, Inc. (GovWin Opportunity 58798) DIS is in the process of deciding how it will proceed with the implementation of the new data center. One option is a turnkey solution, which was presented in the form of a request for information (RFI) in May 2010 (GovWin Opportunity 58802). The other options are to do an in-house implementation, or a hybrid of the two. The department anticipates releasing a request for proposals (RFP) in the near future for a consultant to aid in the development of the data center RFP.

This topic and more will be discussed at the GovWin State and Local Executive Breakfast on October 5, 2010.

Top Homeland Security Grant Programs for FY 2011: IECGP & EOC Grants

Finishing out this week's blog series highlighting the top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs for states and localities, today we will cover two grant programs we consider 'honorable mentions.' The Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program (IECGP) and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Grant have not been allocated any funding, but don't lose sight of them.

Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program & Emergency Operations Center Grant

Overview: Both programs are operated out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). IECGP: This program aims to provide governance, planning, training and exercise funding to states, territories, and local and tribal governments to carry out initiatives to improve interoperable emergency communications. This includes communications in collective response to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters. Eligible recipients to apply for IECGP funds include all 56 states and territories. EOC: This program aims to improve emergency management and preparedness capabilities by supporting flexible, sustainable, secure, and interoperable EOCs with a focus on addressing identified deficiencies and needs. Eligible recipients include every governor of each U.S. state and territory. The State Administrative Agency (SAA) is the only eligible entity able to apply for the available funding on behalf of eligible state, local, and tribal EOCs.

< b>Grant use: IECGP: The main focus of the IECGP is to fill gaps in leadership and governance; common operational planning and protocols; and emergency responder skills and capabilities development through training and exercises. These priority groups were identified and deemed critical for advancing interoperable emergency communications in alignment with the criteria established for the Statewide Communications Interoperability Planning (SCIP) process. It is most common for states and localities to directly use IECGP funds to procure equipment and services for their interoperable emergency communications systems. EOC: The main focus of the EOC grant program is the renovation of a state, local or tribal governments' principal EOC. Fully capable emergency operations facilities at the state and local levels are an essential element of a comprehensive national emergency management system and are necessary to ensure continuity of operations and government in major disasters caused by any hazard. It is most common for states and localities to directly use these funds to procure equipment and services for their emergency communications center.

Funding history: Currently, the IECGP and EOC grant programs have no FY 2011 requested funding, but that could change. IECGP: The allocation methodology for IECGP is determined by the legislation that created the grant program. Per the 9/11 Act, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive a minimum of 0.50 percent of the total funds allocated. Four territories (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) will receive a minimum allocation of 0.08 percent of the total funds allocated. The remainder of the funds will be based upon a risk methodology. The IECGP is a matching grant that requires a 25 percent nonfederal cost share on all purchases. In FY 2010, $48 million was appropriated to the IECGP. This number is about the same as what was appropriated in FY 2009. No funding information is available for FY 2011. EOC: The EOC Grant program is also considered a matching grant. FEMA recognizes that each state, local and tribal jurisdiction has unique emergency management needs. Through a two-phase state and national review, EOC Grant Program awards are determined based on how well each applicant addressed the following criteria: state-identified priorities, quality of justification and pre-existing planning. In FY 2010, $57 million was appropriated to the EOC program. This number is about 54 percent higher than what was appropriated in FY 2009. No funding information is available for FY 2011.

Timeline: The IECGP and EOC grant applications are typically released in December.

For more information on the IECGP & EOC grant programs and funding history, please see GovWin's grants tool HERE.

Emerging trend: Selling bonds to advance legacy IT systems

With budgets severely strapped, and state and local governments under pressure to upgrade or replace antiquated IT systems, a new trend is emerging: selling bonds.

Nevada's Clark County School District is mulling options for a new multimillion dollar bond program that will assist in keeping up with shifting technologies. The recent end of the district's 1998 bond program, which generated nearly $5 billion for capital needs, halted plans for IT advancements and new school construction. With the creation of a new bond program, district officials hope to implement a new information system that tracks student records, attendance and addresses within the next two years. The current system, SASI, has not been upgraded in years due to ceased production of replacement parts. A new system is estimated to cost between $6 million and $15 million.

Further, the district may use the new bond program to revive or replace Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. The district has invested more than $50 million in ERP, but stopped payroll and human resources functions two years ago due to increased costs. Adding wireless Internet access to school buses is also being considered.

Minnesota's Chisago County is also planning to sell bonds to finance IT upgrades. A public hearing will take place October 20, 2010, to amend the county's capital improvement plan, which will allow the county to sell bonds to update its 800 megahertz radio communications and ARMER records management systems. The bond sale, touted as "Build America Bonds," will cost $11.3 million and could happen as early as December 2010. The sale could save the county $800,000 over the time of servicing debt. Another benefit of the sale is that it includes capitalized interest and can be layered over expiring debt.

It's not been uncommon for states and localities to sell bonds to advance construction projects, repair facilities, or purchase equipment, but will selling bonds to keep abreast of budding technologies become the new norm? GovWin will continue to monitor this rising trend and keep you informed as new developments unfold.

Top Homeland Security Grant Programs for FY 2011: Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

Today's installment of this week's blog series on the top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs for states and localities covers the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

Overview: The AFG provides funding directly to fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to provide them with the necessary tools for emergency response personnel to project the health and safety of the public. There are three different types of grants available within this program:

• The primary goal of the AFG is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations

• The purpose of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants is to help fire departments increase the number of frontline firefighters

• The Fire Prevention and Safety(FP&S) grants support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards

Grant Use: The AFG program has a wide variety of allowable uses. Almost any expense that falls in the categories of firefighting operations or firefighter safety is eligible under the grant. This includes, but is not limited to, firefighting equipment, training costs, and technology.

Funding History: Funding obligations under this grant program in FY 2009 totaled $565 million. This amount funded 5,200 separate grants. Funding for FY 2010 is estimated to decrease to $300 million, and in FY 2011 funding is estimated to increase to $420 million.

Timeline: The application period for this grant is typically April through May.

For more information on the AFG program and funding history, please see GovWin's grants tool here

Top Homeland Security Grant Programs for FY 2011: Port Security Grant Program

Continuing this week's blog series highlighting the top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs for states and localities, today we will cover the Port Security Grant Program.

Port Security Grant Program

Overview: One of the Department of Homeland Security's specific grant programs is the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), which provides funding for ports and other critical infrastructure to combat nonconventional threats and terrorism. The main goal is to prevent a major disruption of commerce at all port areas. Some of the largest ports in the U.S. are: Port of South Louisiana; Port of Houston, Texas; Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, N.J.; Port of Beaumont, Texas; and Port of Long Beach, Calif.

Grant use: The PSGP funds are primarily intended to assist ports in enhancing awareness at maritime access points and enhancing risk management capabilities to help prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from attacks involving various types of explosives. This includes chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or any other type of explosive that could be used in an attack. Prevention and awareness systems, training and exercises, and Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) implementation is also essential.

Funding history: The PSGP provides money to three different groups, or classifications. The DHS conducted a risk assessment and established three classes of ports. Seven ports were placed in Group I (highest risk), Group II includes 48 ports, and Group III includes all other port applicants. Based on a fiscal year analysis, the Group I and II ports receive a pre-designated target amount of funding, while Group III ports compete for the remaining funding through individual applications. For example, the FY 2010 PSGP grant funding allocated $172 million to Group I, $86 million to Group II, $14 million to Group III, and $14 million to all other ports. The amount of funding made available since FY 2007 has remained constant, however, there was a large increase in the FY 2008 and FY 2009 funding. From FY 2007 through FY 2011, the funding has been $312 million, $388 million, $388 million, $288 million, and $300 million.

Timeline: The PSGP grant is typically released in December.

For more information on the PSGP and funding history, please see GovWin's grants tool here

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