D.C., Md. officials say they rely on partnerships with vendors

What state and local government officials really seek in their industry partnerships is flexibility, Maryland and District of Columbia officials said today at FOSE's E-Town.

One way to ensure smooth communications between government and industry is to establish best business practices, said Joe D'Ambro, director of innovative solutions for the District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. 'If I'm blind to something, the vendor will be blind to it, too.'

D'Ambro said that in working with vendors he is also always on the lookout for best cost and best value. Plus, he wants to provide more forward-looking technology for the city's 82 agencies.

Russ Doupnik, Maryland deputy CIO, talked about the daunting prospect of supporting IT for Maryland's 70 agencies that provide services for the state and surviving what he called the elaborate outsourcing process.

Doupnik cited the state's fiber-optic network as one example of a fortuitous public-private partnership. Maryland has the right to use the private fiber to run government communications. 'Everybody wins,' Doupnik said.

Panel moderator Jake Brody, senior manager for Accenture Ltd.'s federal government practice, said vendors should always look at the end goal for the customer. Perhaps a large company does something well, but a small company might handle another requirement better.

Technology changes so rapidly that sometimes vendors have to deviate from the specifications, Brody said. 'You have to allow room for that,' he said. 'Over the life of the contract, things change.'

As an example of the need for more flexible procurements, Doupnik cited the case of the traffic cameras that track red-light violations. 'It's interesting to see the proposals put forth for that,' he said. Vendors offer all kinds of different digital cameras, film and timing devices. 'With a flexible request for proposals, it lets vendors come forth with innovations.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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