A sign warning about the potability of recycled water used in irrigation

Streamline procurement to enable innovation

State agencies, in partnership with non-state partners, should streamline procurement processes to enable smaller vendors and increased innovation

“Some of these vulnerable communities don’t have the resources to provide their own data and information so it gets left out or it’s dominated by other interests.” — State Agency Employee

While the topic of procurement was not flagged by interviewees, it has been flagged as an important consideration by organizations, like Gartner and 18F, that support modernization of public data systems.[1],[2] These organizations emphasize the need for modular software development[3] as the transition to more modern data systems requires moving to different software products and switching from enterprise systems to open data systems. In many cases the companies best suited to help state entities make this transition are smaller, more agile companies that may not be well equipped to navigate the complicated and arduous public procurement processes.

Agile procurement practices can help encourage creativity and innovation. However, they often require government agencies to rethink current procurement processes, including:

  • Shortening contract duration
  • Focusing on project objectives and user experience rather than pre-defined deliverables
  • Requiring all work products to be published under an open-source software license and committed to public repositories
  • Focusing on key personnel, their experience, design approach and relevant examples of source code.

Additional information on agile procurement processes can be found at 18F.gsa.gov.[4]

Putting Data to Work