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California’s Governor vetoes AB 522

Members of the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS) and the tech sector at large were pleased to learn that California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has vetoed AB 522, a bill that would have created a statutory mandate for the Director of the Department of Technology to develop a standardized contractor performance assessment report system to evaluate the performance of a contractor on certain technology contracts or projects. While we understand the need for accountability by all contractors that provide goods and services to the state—whether they be providers of information technology (IT) goods and services or highway and bridge contractors—we did not believe this measure was necessary, which was the central message of our formal veto request.

Our primary concern was the lack of equity in the evaluation to include all parties to a project. Any vendor performance evaluation that is focused solely on a contractor’s performance will not represent a holistic view of a project’s successes or challenges, and may or may not be an indication of future contract performance. There was nothing in the bill requiring the state agency’s performance to also be assessed, which we believe is necessary in order to determine if a department or agency’s actions contributed to nonperformance, cost overruns or delayed project implementation. The bill was silent on key factors, such as how well a state agency: (1) articulated the agency’s business and performance needs and desired outcomes of a project, (2) developed a strong procurement strategy/plan, particularly for a complex procurement, and (3) was able to timely staff and execute the state’s responsibilities associated with the project.

Additionally, the bill was redundant as it duplicates an effort already underway by the Department of Technology, which is planning to pilot a new vendor performance evaluation assessment requirement in 2016. In his veto message, the governor said as much, stating that the bill would have duplicated what the Department is already doing.

ITAPS members are firmly committed to helping ensure that the state implements IT projects that perform well, so that Californians can benefit from the innovations and efficiencies that IT vendors deliver. While we fully understand that assessing the performance of a vendor is a fair element of project implementation, we felt this additional statutory requirement was not necessary to achieving that goal.

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