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Chapter 2 - How Is Procuring Information Technology Different?

2.1 The Commonwealth's dependence upon technology grows and evolves

The Commonwealth is increasingly dependent on data, systems and communications that deliver information and services to its citizens and stakeholders, including systems that integrate and share data with other federal, state and local agencies.

Our dependence on technology necessitates that procurement professionals use efficient and repeatable procurement and project-related processes that comply with the VPPA; industry best practices; Commonwealth security, data privacy, project management and other technical standards; and that prompt careful analysis and mitigation of technology risks are carefully considered while staying within the Commonwealth's budget and strategic technology plan.

The increase in value of IT means a corresponding increase in risk to the Commonwealth and the services it provides to its citizens. Commonwealth IT procurement professionals must assess these risks and adapt agency IT strategies and outcomes to match business objectives. IT procurement professionals are experiencing fundamental changes in their roles and responsibilities—transitioning from commodity buyers to negotiators and from transactional order placers to strategic IT solution managers.

VITA's technology procurement process encompasses much more than sourcing and buying IT goods and services. It includes planning; developing requirements; compliance with Commonwealth and federal, technology standards or regulations, assessing risk factors; preparing the solicitation, evaluation, award and contract documents; approval, formal acceptance and receipt of deliverables; payment; inventory tracking and disposition and post-award supplier performance and compliance management. Regardless of whether the technology product or service required is procured by the agency under its delegated authority, purchased off a statewide contract or procured by VITA, the workflow is essentially the same. Here are some things that need to be considered when making any technology purchase:

  • Identify the technology business needs and the technology products, services or solutions that will best fulfill those needs while determining life-cycle cost containment and aligning with the agency's IT strategic plan.
  • Determine the business owner's technical, functional and performance requirements, and determine how these goals may be achieved through a structured procurement. This will require agency purchasing personnel or VITA personnel to meet with stakeholders to help identify needs, craft requirements and propose available technology solutions.
  • Develop specifications that describe the characteristics of the technology product, service or solution being sought. Consideration should be given to product or system suitability and to overall cost effectiveness, in addition to acceptability and price. By their nature, specifications set limits and thereby eliminate or restrict Supplier's from proposing alternative solutions. Drafting technology specifications requires a balance between including sufficient detail to ensure appropriate responses from suppliers and encouraging, not discouraging, competition. The goal is to invite maximum reasonable competition while procuring the best value technology solution for the Commonwealth.
  • Seek bids, proposals or price quotations from a number of potential suppliers, being careful to fulfill minimums established by the Virginia Public Procurement Act, set asides for small businesses and this manual.
  • Evaluate bids or proposals to determine overall economy for the intended use and life cycle of the technology product, solution or services
  • Develop a low-risk and legally sound and sufficient technology contract in accordance with Virginia Public Procurement Act and this manual to protect the Commonwealth and its assets and data.
  • Receive/test the technology product, solution or service and verify that it meets the requirements of the contract and provides the intended technology solution before formal acceptance and payment.

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