Bid-to-Goal Procurement Program Up for Award
Bid-to-Goal Procurement Program Up for Award
After four years and an impressive cost savings of $53 million, San Diego Public Contract Operations’ Bid-to-Goal Program has made the short list for the Innovations in American Government Award, receiving a $10,000 grant as one of 15 finalists in the competition. The program is now eligible to win $100,000 in what is often referred to as “the Oscars” of government award programs.
Confronted with a challenge that faces many cities—how to choose the best service providers to operate critical public infrastructure such as water and wastewater treatment plants—the City of San Diego, CA, developed Bid-to-Goal as an alternative to the traditional solutions and their drawbacks. Typically the options boil down to public-sector providers that are often hampered by traditional management practices, according to national research on government optimizations, or private-sector contractors whose profit motives may compromise public safety.
An evolution of San Diego’s Competition Program, the Bid-to-Goal departed from conventional thinking to focus on the development of a cost-and service-conscious collaboration between public employees and management.
In this new approach, administrative rules are spelled out in a formal, mutually accountable labor agreement modeled on the desirable aspects of private contracts. These include detailed descriptions of scope, competitive budgets (based on independent mock bids performed by private-sector firms), gain-sharing incentives for performance, and default provisions allowing for immediate privatization if performance goals are not met.
“Bid-to-Goal is one of the most important public-sector optimization advancements since managed competition,” says Gowher Rizvi, Director of the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “It has proven impressively that public employees can deliver services at the same quality and cost levels as private industry.”
In addition to cost savings for ratepayers, Bid-to-Goal also benefits the public employees who work for the program. A portion of the savings realized from productivity gains is returned to the employees in the form of incentives and reinvestment in the public business.
San Diego has not traded quality for cost. The city’s wastewater department is the first public utility in the nation to achieve ISO 14000 certification, an internationally recognized system for operations standardization and continuous improvement. Also, a number of other jurisdictions have adopted the Bid-to-Goal strategy, or portions of it, and the U.S. Navy is pursuing a pilot program.
“Bid-to-Goal is a flexible approach to public-sector optimization that can be adapted for use wherever policy makers want to harness the competitive forces of efficiency while maintaining the accountability and control citizens expect when public health and safety are at stake,” says Gail Christopher, Executive Director of the Institute for Government Innovation.
Bid-to-Goal was one of nearly 1,000 applicants for the 16 th annual Innovations in American Government Award. Each of the 15 finalists will deliver a presentation at the National Press Club on May 7, 2003. The National Selection Committee will select five winning programs. Each winner will receive a $100,000 grant to encourage replication of its innovation in other jurisdictions. The committee is chaired by David Gergen, Director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University and editor-at-large of U.S. News & World Report.
For 16 years the Innovations in American Government Award has recognized quality and responsiveness at all levels of government and has fostered the replication of innovative approaches to the challenges facing government.
The award—a program of the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government—is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. The program was founded by the Ford Foundation to identify and promote excellence and creativity in the public sector.
State Helps Businesses Sell to all Levels of Government
The State of New York helps businesses sell to state, federal, and local government—major purchasers of a wide variety of goods and services. New York State budgets for over $8.5 billion worth of contracts annually. New York schools, colleges, towns, villages, and counties also make several billion dollars’ worth of procurements each year.
Empire State Development, a state agency, provides specialized government market information, data, and techniques to businesses unfamiliar with government sales, or those who wish to redouble their efforts in this area. The state advocates on behalf of New York State companies wherever possible, advises on procurement policies, and monitors state and federal legislation to help New York State businesses.
State procurement services assist businesses in competing for state contracts, provide guidance on how to be placed on bidders’ lists, offer lists of New York State subcontractors and suppliers, and resolve problems arising within the bid process.
The New York State Contract Reporter, a weekly publication, keeps small businesses apprised of bid opportunities with individual state agencies, public authorities, and public benefit corporations. The Reporter, available in both online and hard copy, publishes services and technology bid opportunities and notices of upcoming commodity bid openings. To view the publication, visit: www.nyscr.com.
Senate Hears Negative Testimony on Contract Bundling Practices
While testifying before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Eric Adolphe, CEO of OPTIMUS Corp., called government contract bundling “the key government contractual challenge that we face.”
The hearing, entitled “Small Businesses Continue to Lose Federal Jobs by the Bundle,” included expert witnesses from government and industry, and examined the harmful impact that bundling has on small business growth.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, contract bundling costs the small business sector an estimated $13 billion annually.
According to Adolphe, small, disadvantaged businesses and 8(a) firms are essentially “shut out of numerous federal contracts” because “current contract bundling practices…don’t enable a level playing field.”
To illustrate this point, Adolphe pointed to a specific instance of a federal government agency that bundled all of its software development requirements into one omnibus contract, and failed to meet its contractual obligation to sub-contract a significant portion of the work to small businesses. “Before that, small businesses could have competed directly for the work, based on their expertise. Now, one large government contractor handles millions of dollars’ worth of work.
Police Hit the Streets with Mobile Command Unit
Baltimore police are now able to move their central command anywhere in the city during a disaster with the aid of a AWACS on wheels—a Winnebago-sized vehicle. The unit can be operated unmanned if necessary and can be remotely controlled through a cellular phone. The computer system incorporates new anti-terrorist technologies with the conventional surveillance equipment used by police departments. The AWACS has obvious tactical advantages in fighting drug trafficking, for instance—being able to observe an entire grid of streets and alleys for drug activity, then dispatching officers to make arrests on the spot.