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Countywide Coalition

When cities, villages and townships join forces in requests for proposal awards, they can save money and take advantage of the opportunity to use state-of-the-art technology.

Effectively managing vendor contracts can yield cost savings and increase technology availability across multiple government entities. To achieve these efficiencies, governments need to employ the three Cs: collaboration, cooperation and consolidation.

That’s what we do in Macomb County, Mich., where we frequently include cities, villages and townships in contracts for request for proposal (RFP) awards. This approach provides an impetus for the county and local governments to share a single information system or to partner in order to reduce implementation costs.

To achieve this objective, we have centralized the RFP process and coordinate it through the information technology department. IT engages all prospective departments and agencies, helps create the overall vision, and documents the needs and challenges.

IT takes a customer-oriented approach. Its employees must know their client department’s business processes, they must have a strong IT implementation background, and they must view technology results in terms of the ultimate end users.

EVERYONE WINS

This collaborative approach has resulted in three successful applications: a Web site e-mail subscription service, a single judicial case management system for all courts in the county and an upcoming countywide judicial video proceedings system.

When negotiating the contract for the Web site e-mail subscription service, Macomb County made sure all cities, villages and townships received the same discount — or a better one. Some even received free service. The county trains a community representative who administers the service on the community’s Web site.

This agreement includes three components: setup and installation, training and monthly subscription based on community population. For communities with fewer than 10,000 people, the county will do the training at no cost, and the vendor will provide the service at no cost. For communities with more than 10,000 people, there is a sliding scale for these costs, and the services are provided by the vendor.

This single-purchase approach to the e-mail subscription service has helped us meet a countywide technology goal: 100 percent Web presence for the county and each of its cities, villages and townships, and 100 percent e-mail with each community’s own domain name system.

We also plan to identify where it makes economic sense to move a community’s Web site and Internet access to our hosting Internet service provider.

ADDED VALUE

Our second success story, a single judicial case management system, kicked off in 1999. The first court went live in 2004. To date, the circuit court, county clerk, judicial aide, juvenile court, juvenile court probation, probate courts and district court probation are online. The prosecutor’s office is scheduled to join in 2006, with the district courts to follow. The project remains on track and on budget.

As each court comes online, the information sharing value grows, while the number of criminal history records interfaces to the state goes down — eventually to one. Docket information is also available through the county’s Web site, www.MacombCountyMI.gov.

The three Cs also played a role in the upcoming judicial video proceedings system. A team from IT, the client departments and municipal representatives spent two years developing requirements and publishing an RFP. By awarding this countywide system RFP to collaborative-oriented vendor(s), the county, cities, villages and townships will reap significant savings, along with the opportunity to use state-of-the-art technology.

Our experience with these applications has revealed three success factors: First, take the time to plan, even years in advance. Second, implement RFPs in conjunction with prior contract renewal dates or other events. Finally, get everyone at the table and on the team right from the start.

Oct 31 2006

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