To reshape procurement processes and manage procurement in an innovative way, The U.S. municipality of Long Beach has begun transforming it from an internal service into a tool for economic development. By launching an open portal that allows owners of ideas and innovations to share their visions according to a mechanism that ensures that they reach decision-makers.
It is customary for city authorities to spend a large part of their budgets on goods and services for which they conclude giant contracts. In traditional scenarios and practices, The Government shall determine its needs, projects or competitions, It opens the door to those with ideas and solutions.
But traditional procedures in procurement management often constitute a bureaucratic burden rather than a positive opportunity. In Long Beach, For years, leaders of the public and private sectors have agreed on the complexity of the existing mechanism. Where vendors and service providers offer and their projects, which sometimes carry unique ideas, But they are lost before they reach decision-makers. Because the capabilities of employees are limited. As for innovation, There is no clear mechanism for prioritizing the city, potential partners, or projects that can be tested or expanded.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, increased federal funding, and renewed commitment to racial justice, Many municipalities have reconsidered procurement mechanisms. Thus, Complementing a 5-year-old idea, Long Beach Municipality launched, Known for its appetite for new experiments, A pioneering project to develop bidding and contracting mechanisms.
Pilot projects differ from tests or proof-of-concept processes, It is a short period dedicated to receiving, testing and measuring the impact of proposed solutions before investing time and resources. The Long Beach project is an online portal that allows vendors to share new proposals, ideas and methodologies to approach the challenges facing the city or to highlight other challenges overlooked by the authorities.
The most prominent feature of this experience is its openness to different solutions, Old and new, Whether it is "technically feasible" or not. For a project to meet this requirement, must include a technological component, Without necessarily being associated with a particular technique.
As much as the authorities are interested in creating a smooth and open process, Her eagerness was to gather as much information as possible to make rational judgments. Therefore, The portal provides users with an electronic form called "Idea Form". It asks applicants to answer about 25 questions, Some of them deal with the reality of the company and its history, The rest focus on your proposal, The idea owner is asked to estimate the resources you need, Determine their compatibility with the four basic principles of the smart city, adopted by the City Council as part of the pandemic response measures, He stipulated that the new ideas should meet at least one of them.
First of all The principle of determination for justice, aimed at bridging the historical gap between the groups of society, By making technologies and services available to everyone with the same quality; secondly, the idea should gain the trust of the public, to achieve community participation and ensure data privacy and transparency; Third, to develop local expertise, It contributes to supporting business, building capacity and establishing partnership channels; It is the construction of civil resilience, That is, increasing the effectiveness of responding to challenges and returning to data as a reference for decision-making.
As a general framework for projects, The municipality relied on community participation and the efforts of official teams to identify 8 priorities, Namely, recovery from the pandemic, and climate action, Empowering community participation, Improving the transport system, Bridging the digital divide, and increasing the efficiency of urban services, Reducing homelessness, the elimination of systemic racism, and reduce the ethnic physical gap. Of course, The "Idea Form" asks the applicant to specify the priority served by his project.
After the idea was presented, It is transferred to the Smart City Office team of the Technology and Innovation Department, Where the coherence of the offer is ensured, meets the basic principles and meets at least one priority, Once identified, is transferred to experts to study the feasibility of its implementation, If it is a parking project, His studies will be the responsibility of the parking team in the Department of Public Works. After studying, The team determines the extent of its organization's attention, dedication and possession of financial and human resources. According to these standards, If the idea can be implemented, It is referred to a specialized committee to review it, "show interest" and determine whether this idea will catch the attention of other organizations. If you do, The authorities are launching an official competition to provide solutions to the challenge posed, And if you don't, The conversion of the initial offering into a pilot project begins. As with all contracts concluded with the city authorities, Ideas must meet legal requirements, And to be presented within a competitive framework that allows stakeholders to choose the best partner for each project, That is, showing interest in the idea does not necessarily require its implementation, It makes no sense for a company to get a contract just because it is the first applicant. If the offer is not accepted, Reasons and observations are explained to the company to encourage it to repeat the attempt. The authorities conduct webinars to teach and formulate persuasive presentations.
The authorities have also developed measurable indicators to track the work and monitor the extent to which it has achieved the desired objectives. It is currently evaluating 15 presentations on health, transportation, small business support and more. It may be difficult to predict how long the assessments will take. However, the plan is flexible and allows standards to be adjusted to needs.
To achieve the goal of supporting startups and small businesses owned by women, To avoid the challenge of lack of transparency and justice, An officer has been appointed in charge of this aspect, The department also plans to publish (non-personal) dashboards about all offers it receives, So that everyone can follow the official websites and keep abreast of the operations.
In addition to communicating innovations to city authorities for transparent evaluation, The portal provides a quick way to understand new projects and experience them on the ground before committing to any contracts, It also achieves other benefits such as measuring community reaction, and improve operational efficiency, Broadening the horizons for successful experiences, This will make Long Beach a destination for innovative solutions and urban development.