AIF SUPPORTS the continued need for investment in Information Technology (IT) and the modernization of Florida’s outdated systems and processes. IT should be viewed as an investment in the future of Florida. Our citizen- facing systems including web portals and call centers are stove-piped, woefully inadequate and outdated. Many of the state’s core systems are decades old and unsustainable.
AIF SUPPORTS technology investments that focus on better and more efficient IT components. We believe this approach is key to efficient government and effective services for Florida’s taxpayers. The citizens of our state deserve more than cobbled-together outdated systems that run on obsolete hardware and software.
AIF SUPPORTS the need for positive returns on the state’s investment. The measured “return” should include the positive impact of user-friendly systems, the positive benefit to Florida’s economy and the mitigation of the future failure of unsustainable systems.
AIF SUPPORTS the reform and modernization of Florida’s contracting and procurement processes, especially as related to information technology products, services and complex projects.
Florida’s state term contracts for IT-related products and services are outdated and need to be completely restructured. The current structure of state term contracts blocks vendors from doing business with the State of Florida for years at a time, discourages IT firms from expanding and relocating to Florida and impedes high-tech job growth in Florida. These contracts essentially create “vendor pools” that are eligible to sell to Florida agencies and other entities that utilize the contracts. These contracts are generally in effect from two to eight years and do not allow new vendors to be added during the contract term.
AIF believes that Florida should implement a vendor registration system for state term contracts. The current process of determining the vendor pool via a competitive bid process has not worked well and should be eliminated. Instead, vendors should be able to register at any time rather than having to wait years for the state to issue a new state term contract. Under this approach, when vendors register, they would agree to abide by the terms of the state term contract, attest to legal requirements such as being registered with the Division of Corporations to do business in Florida and provide references.
This approach will broaden competition, drive better pricing and decrease the administrative burden of issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) or Invitations to Negotiate (ITN) to establish state contract vendors. It will also encourage (rather than discourage) vendors to do business with the State of Florida, promote business investment in Florida and support high-tech job growth in Florida.
AIF further believes that state term contracts should be required by the Department of Management Services (DMS) for certain type of IT products and services. At a minimum, these should include: IT consulting services, management consulting services, staff augmentation consulting services, cloud services, independent verification& validation (IV&V) services, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, and computer hardware. Alternate contract sources should be allowed to be used if needed to expand the competitive field when a state contract is not available or when an RFP or ITN is not practical.
AIF believes that agencies should be able to issue competitive RFPs and ITNs at their discretion without regard to whether or not a state term contract is available in that ITNs and RFPs are always the most open and most competitive type of procurement vehicle.
AIF SUPPORTS further investment by the State of Florida to protect state assets, systems and data.
A significant cyber-attack on our state could have devastating results far beyond a data breach. First responder systems, corrections systems, public assistance systems, food inspection systems, health care systems and many others could be impacted with catastrophic result.
We applaud the investment made by the Legislature last year to begin agency security assessments. AIF believes that additional funding should be made available so that all agencies can complete rigorous security assessments. Further, assessments without action and funding to remediate deficiencies is fundamentally a waste of taxpayer dollars. We strongly encourage adequate funding to take appropriate steps to protect Florida from cybersecurity attacks.
AIF is concerned that budgetary constraints are putting Florida at undue risk. The time to make prudent investments is now - not after a major attack.
ITNs are typically used by agencies for large and complex projects. They allow agencies to evaluate and score vendor proposals using predefined and weighted evaluation criteria. Agencies then choose one or more vendors with which to negotiate. After the negotiation process, the agency then awards the contract to the vendor that is determined to offer the “best value” to the State of Florida.
It is these large and complex projects that all too often fail completely or end up over schedule and over budget due to change orders, and not living up to promises and expectations. This happens, in part, due to poor contract awards.
AIF believes that the current process for determining “best value” is too vague and that it should be clearly defined and consistent across all agencies. Currently, negotiators essentially “vote” for a vendor who in their opinion represents the “best value.” This is an unreasonable expectation of state negotiators and is not an effective or prudent way to protect taxpayer dollars.
AIF SUPPORTS the continued use of ITNs for large and complex projects, but believes that significant improvement is needed in the methodology and process for determining “best value” and awarding the contact.
Further, AIF SUPPORTS the current process that defines criteria points and weightings in order to evaluate and score the original vendor responses to determine a short list of vendors that are eligible to negotiate. AIF believes that the same criteria and weighting should be consistent throughout the evaluation and negotiation process and serve as the basis for determining the vendor that provides the “best value.” Thus, once all negotiations are completed and all changes to the original responses resulting from the negotiations are received in writing, the responses should be re-scored in accordance with the original criteria points and weightings. When the technical responses are rescored and posted, the sealed, best and final offers (BAFO pricing) would then be opened and scored consistent with the original weightings. Taking into account the rescored technical bid and rescored pricing, the highest scoring vendor would then be determined as the “best value” and be awarded the contract.
AIF believes that a defined methodology for determined “best value” will result in more successful projects and better investment of taxpayer dollars.