Over the past two years, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers fully embraced a new model for state CIOs known as “CIO as a broker,” where IT chiefs serve as facilitators for acquiring goods and services with the recognition that they cannot simply prescribe solutions for stakeholder agencies.
With this model, the private sector becomes an even more important player in the procurement process for state agencies.
“Multisourcing is emerging as the discipline for managing a complex and diversified portfolio of services and service providers. These services are being employed to meet the continual evolving demand for creatively delivering government services through new channels with new functionality,” NASCIO notes.
The concept of creative fulfillment of government requirements opens the door for powerful interaction with those customers by integrators, distributors and manufacturers.
Vendors Engage with Agencies Under an Established Framework
In May 2019, NASCIO published “The State CIO Operating Model: A Playbook for Managing Change in a Sustainable Way.” In the playbook, the association observed the private sector already operates on a brokerage model, paving the way for state government to follow.
“Citizens are familiar with the ease of use and delivery of services from the private sector, and states can broker a similar experience for government services. CIOs must forge strong partnerships with the IT vendor community to effectively deliver government services to citizens,” Utah CIO Mike Hussey says in the playbook.
The playbook specifies that state CIOs set the framework in which their sister agencies operate, but freedom to choose from multiple vendors is left to specific agencies.
“The state CIO must broker many aspects of service delivery including needs and demands, market capabilities, internal capabilities, vendor relationships, contracts and service level agreements, budgets, management initiatives, programs and projects,” the playbook reads.
The playbook prescribes engaging the market early and often: “Market engagement is more than simply meeting with suppliers. It is a collaborative and intentional exercise designed to foster understanding between buyers and sellers.”
State CIOs should host forums where agencies can assess market opportunities and innovations to maintain an understanding of current and emerging technologies, the playbook says. It advises CIOs to focus on outcomes and not specific tools.
Collaboration with Vendors Key to Fulfilling Service Requirements
In a takeaway from the NASCIO 2019 annual conference, StateScoop reports the conference saw “a near unanimous push among chief information officers to expand their ‘as-a-service’ business models as they integrate with the rest of their organizations.”
The article characterizes the brokerage model as a result of increased adoption of cloud computing initiatives. In NASCIO’s 2019 annual state CIO survey, 92 percent of CIOs said they would expand their “as-a-service” offerings, while 48 percent said they would scale down state owned and operated data centers.
With shifting focus on negotiating services, some see value in government CIOs with a business background rather than a technical background. “What states and some local governments are looking for are CIOs who are less technologists and more adept at communicating and relationship building,” notes Government Techology. This change comes with a greater emphasis on private sector partners as a source of technical knowledge.
In 2018, NASCIO surveyed its private sector members on what reforms would best improve state IT procurement processes.
More than 80 percent responded “Craft RFIs and RFPs in a manner that encourages solutions from the private sector rather than focusing on overly prescriptive specifications.” Nearly 80 percent responded “Work with all parties — including those from the private sector — to establish a process that increases flexibility and communication.”
NASCIO seems to have taken these recommendations to heart, and private sector companies potentially have greater opportunities to work as collaborative partners with state agencies.