One of the biggest reasons government technology remains bloated and clunky is due to procurement, the complex rules dictating how various governments can purchase goods and services from private contractors.
A major problem surrounding procurement is the notion of competitive procurement thresholds, which limit the amount that a city is able to privately spend on services, before publicly triggering the procurement process.
For example, if a city has a competitive procurement threshold of $50,000, the city would be able to privately spend up to $50,000 on technology services. If services cost in excess of $50,000 the city must advertise the project on their site, and solicit bids, or offers from other companies, usually three or more.
Mapping the Solution
To make it easier for startups looking to sell to governments, and larger companies trying to scale their product across governments with similar procurement thresholds and purchasing processes, we made a map!
As noted in an earlier post on procurement, two of the biggest problems with procurement is are as follows:
- High variation — on a municipal level, the rules and regulations enjoy a high level of variation between city governments.
- Low visibility — these rules and regulations are not publicly accessible, or if they are, they are not made easily available to the public. The information is buried inside city websites or in municipal codes, accessible only by specific key words.
Cities that have lower procurement thresholds are showcased in darker colors, while cities with higher procurement thresholds have lighter colors. This is because more startups are able to purchase from cities without going through the competitive bid process.
Click on a point on the map to view information such as the name of the city, the city’s population, whether procurement process for the city is centralized or decentralized, and of course, the dollar amount of the procurement thresholds.
What This Means for Startups and Government
By providing startups with additional transparency and information into the procurement processes, governments can begin to benefit from better technology products at a fraction of the cost they are normally accustomed to paying for them. As Clay Johnson stated, “Procurement reform is a huge opportunity, and the first government to enable the innovators in its own backyard to easily work with the city is bound to have a boom of jobs and convenience.”
Also, government officials can see how their procurement thresholds and processes compare with other governments in their region, and use this information to better inform their operations and their policy making.
We hope this will grow into a useful resources for civic startups attempting to navigate the procurement market.