The N.C. Department of Information Technology has been working over the past year to identify and implement efficiencies, transparency and more accountability into the statewide IT procurement process.
The department’s Statewide IT Procurement Office is responsible for reviews and approvals of IT purchases of more than $25,000 for state agencies. It also develops and manages contracts for use by all state agencies, colleges and local governments.
The volume of such procurements has increased over the past several years, as has required reviews, particularly for legal, security and privacy, which have become increasingly important because of the heightened need for data, privacy and network protection.
In early 2022, the Statewide IT Procurement Office started engaging with state agency customers to thoroughly evaluate the overall IT procurement process. With the assistance of a management consulting firm, it identified areas for improvement based on several key findings:
- There were many steps and several different NCDIT offices involved in the review and approval process that could cause a delay.
- Procurement delays were often due to missing information that agencies were not always aware was needed.
- The existing process did not have a clear starting point, and the process incorporated manual emails to track the approval process on a case-by-case basis.
- Incomplete information in procurement documents led to delays due to employee turnover and lack of available training and documentation.
The simplified process, which rolled out to all executive branch agencies in January, now leverages a state eProcurement platform that standardizes the process for submitting requests, clarifies customer responsibilities and incorporates automated workflows to coordinate required approvals.
The eProcurement platform provides insight into the status of each IT procurement and what is required to move a solicitation or award to the next phase through to completion. This insight will help the Statewide IT Procurement Office know when potential delays begin to occur and proactively communicate with agencies about action required to keep the procurement on schedule. In the future, the Statewide IT Procurement Office will receive enough data from the platform to establish baselines for processing times at each phase of the process that will help identify opportunities for further improvement.
To ensure success with the new system, the Statewide IT Procurement Office has developed a playbook and improved its training so procurement staff across all state agencies receive ongoing training and support. New material is being added to the training section of the IT procurement website on a routine schedule.
NCDIT has also established a permanent Procurement Improvement Committee – a team of staff focused on procurement, service delivery, customer experience, privacy, security and legal matters – to regularly evaluate the updated IT procurement process for further enhancements and efficiencies.
The Statewide IT Procurement Office can now provide more expeditious support to customers and accelerate processing speed and turnaround time for reviews, increasing customer value and lowering risk.
"What we have done is modernize the IT procurement process, providing transparency and accountability from beginning to end," said James Tanzosch, NCDIT’s chief IT procurement officer. "We now have a baseline that will allow us to continue to evolve in how we serve our customers and ultimately, the people of North Carolina."