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The state of Texas is the current hotbed of procurement reform in the United States. With a series of contracting mishaps and an active legislature we saw sweeping procurement reforms during the state’s 2015 legislative session. That’s why our CompTIA SLED Council formed the Texas Procurement Committee. With more than 30 companies represented, this new committee held its first meeting just last week to start diving into the issues at hand.
The Committee works with Texas state departments on procurement issues and practices for the best possible use of technology within state government. For example, SB 20 was passed during the last legislative session in Texas and required overhauls to the state’s procurement laws and rules. Since then, Texas state agencies are grappling with how to implement some of these new requirements and the vendor community has noticed a ‘cooling effect’ on the state’s willingness to discuss contracting opportunities. During last week’s meeting Mary Scott Nabors, a procurement expert, told our committee that on average, Texas state government posts 2,200 contract requests for proposal (RFP) annually. But, in the first quarter of FY 2015-16, there were only three RFPs that made it to the bid phase. Not only will this backlog affect the state’s ability to complete its mission, but the apprehension to communicate with the industry will in turn stifle innovation. To that end, CompTIA members in Texas are working to outline communication standards and rules to help alleviate the concerns of state agencies.
Additionally, the group heard from the Texas Comptroller’s assistant director and project manager working on a survey mandated by SB 20. This study will inquire about the costs and feasibility of centralizing contracting within state government. Currently, contracting authority is not centrally controlled within the state and each department sets their own rules within the laws. This leads to confusion and a perceived redundancy that the Texas legislature would like to learn more about. The study will be completed by the end of 2016 and CompTIA members discussed ways to get vendor input into the study, including the potential of a survey of vendors about procurement best practices and experiences from working with centralized and decentralized procurement systems across the United States. The expected vendor involvement will come to fruition this fall after data on staffing and spend is collected from some 140 state agencies in Texas. CompTIA will continue to engage with the Comptroller’s staff on exactly how that involvement will unfold.
With the issues set before us, committee members are eager to share their expertise on how to make the procurement system in Texas function in an efficient and equitable manner. For more information on the Texas Procurement Committee please contact Jennifer Grutzius at firstname.lastname@example.org.