How to Fast Track Tech Procurement
Many local governments and utility providers are in the process of procuring new technology that meet the changing demands of today’s environment. From digitizing services, to bringing all payments online, to providing safe, contactless in-person payments — the needs are common for many governments and utilities, and the time to implement is now.
Here are a few tips we’ve seen others leveraging to bypass lengthy and complex public sector procurement processes while maintaining rigorous standards. We’ve also compiled some approaches to paying for new technology, regardless of current budget.
Use an Existing Contract to Procure New Tech
Local governments and utilities can leverage an existing contract to procure vetted technology without a lengthy and expensive Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
Join a Purchasing Cooperative
A purchasing cooperative does the heavy lifting of vetting technology vendors once, so that all members can benefit. Each purchasing authority may have different protocols in place, but the process is generally similar: they identify a need, publish an RFP for a solution, and evaluate and select qualifying preferred vendors. The result is a standard contract that meets rigorous qualifications and can be leveraged by various purchasing entities, like a utility, city, county, or state, or a specific agency or department.
By using an existing contract, local governments and utilities can:
- Drastically streamline the procurement process
- Benefit from technology contracts available at the most competitive pricing
- Gain access to cloud-based solutions that are proven in the field and peer-recognized
It’s fast, easy, and free to join a purchasing cooperative. Here are just a few:
- Allied States Cooperative – Read more about the CityBase payment services ASC contract here
- State cooperatives like Texas DIR, Alabama Joint Purchasing, and Cal eProcure
Piggyback on an Existing Contract
Similar to a purchasing collaborative, piggybacking on an existing contract allows utilities and local governments to use an existing contract to procure technology. Many states like California and New York have robust piggybacking rules that make it easier for governments and utilities in the same state or district to procure technology already in use by their peers. The software platform Marketplace.city makes it easy to find technology solutions and contracts being used in other cities.
The benefits of piggybacking are similar to those of a purchasing cooperative: you are using a contract that has already been negotiated by a peer, the vendor has undergone rigorous vetting through a formal RFP process, and the technology has been proven in the field by a peer city with your similar needs.
Local governments in California can leverage the CityBase contract with the City and County of San Francisco for countywide POS, kiosk, and online payments and digital services. Additionally, CityBase, through resellers, can leverage large government contracts that most local governments use to regularly purchase technology solutions.
Fund Public Sector Technology with Federal Grants
Local governments and utilities can pay for new technology using federal grant money. Programs that support the safety of America’s communities can help cover technology that:
- Enables public sector employees to do their jobs remotely
- Provides no-contact options for residents to engage with their local government or pay their bills, online or in-person
CARES Act Funding
Some utilities and local governments are using CARES Act funding to purchase outdoor payment kiosks that allow residents to make contactless, in-person payments 24/7. For example, this CARES Act FAQ from Plymouth County, MA, says that kiosks qualify as a reimbursable COVID expense “if the purchase was made to respond to the public health emergency [. . .] to mitigate cash handling.”
This technology is important for residents who pay in cash due to preference or need, and must pay in person. Many are un- or under-banked without access to banking services, with few alternatives to making in-person payments. The kiosks keep residents and staff safe, allowing staff who are working remotely to manage transactions in real-time.
Other Grant Resources
Our GTY Technology sister company eCivis is a grant management platform for city, county, state, and tribal governments in the US. They’ve put together a COVID-19 Resource Hub that helps local governments navigate newly available grant funding, with tips, training, and other resources to make the most federal grants.