CWDS connecting families with foster caregivers

How California Health and Human Services is Changing the Way Government Does Business

An agile process pioneered by 18F cuts the time and cost associated with conventional RFPs
GWW Staff

GWW Opinion

GWW Staff

January 23, 2017

We’re seeing a new trend in the often sedentary process of government contracting. The General Service Administration (GSA) and 18F put out an Agile Delivery Services Blanket Purchase Agreement (Agile BPA) in 2015. A departure from the traditional (and often labor intensive) RFP and written proposal process, the vendor selection vehicle applied agile methods to the digital acquisition process.

The goal was to minimize the time and cost associated with conventional solicitations and gain direct insight into vendors’ process and work product. This enabled 18F to establish a blanket purchase agreement with group of vendors who specialize in agile service delivery.

Following suit in 2016, California Health and Human Services (CHHS) conducted a similar selection process for California Child Welfare Digital Services (CWDS) that was modeled after the Agile BPA.

How it worked

CWDS sought a pool of pre-qualified vendors for user-centered design and agile software development services. Companies interested in joining the Agile Development Pre-Qualified (ADPQ) vendor pool were asked to develop a functioning prototype. Firms were encouraged to use open source technologies and leverage the U.S. Digital Services Playbook as a framework for design and development. Prototypes were made accessible at a publicly available URL and all code, assets, and documentation provided via a public GitHub repository. All in just over a month.

Portland Webworks, the parent company of GovWebworks, was among the group of firms to make the cut. (You can find our CHHS prototype and our CHHS repo at these links.) Although CHHS allowed for up to 15 vendors to enter the ADPQ pool, only 11 of the 24 applicants were chosen, with several notable industry names turned away. The select group of major IT consulting firms includes Deloitte and Accenture, as well as several other established firms focused on serving the public sector. A Request For Offer is issued by CHHS to solicit work from pool vendors when individual projects and requirements are identified.

Why we care

The ADPQ award aligns with the mission of GovWebworks, an operating division of Portland Webworks, to serve the public sector. It also attests to our ongoing commitment to agile development and open source technologies.

“It’s exciting to see governments at all levels beginning to value the advantages of the Agile BPA approach,” says company president, Justin Davis.

“It really begins to level the playing field for nimble, focused firms like ours. We can now compete alongside some of the IT consulting titans. The ADPQ award will continue our focus on the social services sector, and back up our successes in Maine, Idaho, and Washington.”

Formed in 2016, GovWebworks provides government agencies with innovative, user-centric solutions that deliver immediate impact to citizens, from first touch to service fulfillment.

Learn more

We welcome questions about how the agile process can help accelerate your agency’s digital objectives. Contact GovWebworks to set up a consultation.

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