Sunshine Week: Maryland continues transparent CATS IT contract program
Published: March 14, 2013
Day four of Deltek’s recognition of Sunshine Week continues promoting transparency in the name of efficient, effective and ethical government. The state of Maryland has long prioritized efficiency, transparency, and IT investment for the greater good of its constituency, and in doing so, has fostered an engaged citizenry and vendor community. The Maryland Consulting and Technical Services (CATS) contracts embody those priorities and are now entering their third generation as a streamlined procurement strategy for supporting information technology projects.
The Maryland Department of Information Technology established the CATS program to allow state agencies to quickly and efficiently obtain IT consulting and technical services from a pre-qualified pool of vendors with services in 17 functional areas ranging from Web and Internet services to information system security and software engineering.
The CATS methodology is often referred to as two-step procurement, with the first step qualifying a group of suppliers under one or more set of requirements, or functional areas. The second step allows using agencies to solicit responses from the aforementioned qualified vendors for a business need defined in a request for resumes (RFR) or a task order request for proposals (TORFP), depending on job’s anticipated value.
Most two-step statewide term contracts close their curtains after the first, or qualification phase. This is often in contrast to other contracts in those same states whose award totals and contract documents are available. Since the first generation CATS contract was initiated in 2005, Maryland has not only made labor rates quoted in the qualification phase available, but also made the status and results of the second, or TORFP phase, transparent via the CATS website. Information provided includes the requesting agency, TORFP document, number of proposals submitted, awarded vendor, award amount, and in the case of CATS II, the MBE fulfillment. The Maryland Department of Information Technology also maintains a dashboard detailing CATS contract activity:
With a little bit of extra lifting with CATS data, we can see that 15 vendors have grossed more than $10 million in TORFP awards since 2005.
Of course, these are just a fraction of the 435 vendors qualified under CATS II. Additionally, there are more than 150,000 labor rates submitted under CATS II than can be viewed individually by vendors on the CATS II site or queried, sorted and downloaded by GovWin IQ members at the S&L Term Contract resource.
Sevice offerings under CATS II are classified under 17 functional areas and so by reviewing TORFP awards we can see what type of assistance state agencies are most often seeking.
After two successful generations of contracts with the original CATS and then CATS II, the Maryland Department of Information Technology decided to forge ahead with CATS Plus, and on July 2, 2012, released an RFP tracked under GovWin IQ Opportunity ID 51373. Proposals were accepted on or before August 8, 2012, and awards are expected in April 2013. The department expects the third generation contract vehicle to engage more than 300 vendors and to exceed $400 million in spending volume in its five-year contract term, taking the total volume of the CATS contracts to nearly $1 billion.
Maryland’s CATS contracts provide a streamlined opportunity for IT professional services vendors to do business with the state directly or through partner opportunities. The transparency of the program also allows for insight into competitors’ pricing and successful bids.
Look for more states to use statewide term contracts similar to CATS in the future and to additionally offer pricing and spending data around those contracts. Rest assured that GovWin IQ will be looking for those opportunities and including pricing in our State and Local Term Contract resource and the spending in our analysis activities.
Deltek will publish a full-length report, “State Government Transparency Report 2013,” providing detailed itemized IT expenditures for the state of Maryland and many other states in the coming weeks.
GovWin IQ subscribers can learn more about these statewide contracts in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial.