California takes e-buy plunge
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Mar 15, 2001
California is the latest state to unveil an electronic procurement system
to save time and money among its more than 200 agencies.
The Web-based CAL-Buy (www.pd.dgs.ca.gov) will be implemented in phases
and is being developed by Accenture, a management and technology consulting
group, and the state Department of General Services (DGS).
Three state agencies — DGS, the Department of Transportation and the
California Highway Patrol — are the first to begin buying electronically.
The site also includes 180 fixed-price statewide commodity contracts, including
items from asphalt to upholstery.
"Our first phase is larger than many states' total e-procurement would
be," said CAL-Buy project manager Terese Butler. Beyond adding state agencies
to the system, she said that local municipalities and school districts would
be welcomed within a year.
It costs suppliers and vendors nothing to register for the site, Butler
said, but she added that eventually, the state likely would charge some
transaction fees to recoup investments.
Audrey Harrell, associate partner with Accenture, said the challenge
with California is its sheer size. The state buys nearly $6 billion worth
of goods and services a year.
"The number of suppliers is right up there with the largest government
systems," she said, adding that California wanted the site to be flexible
and tailored to agency needs, such as using small businesses and recycled
products. Accenture also developed e-procurement systems for North Carolina
Harrell said the site eventually would include master contracts, electronic
quoting, sealed bidding, reverse auctions and better communications with
In 1999, the state looked at an e-procurement system, but was sidetracked
when a new governor came to office and the Year 2000 date-change issue loomed.
The contract was put on hold. Last spring, the state looked at resurrecting
the project and conducted a due diligence report, which confirmed that it
made sense to move forward, Butler said.
Things got going last October. Harrell and Butler said they were pleased
that it took only five months to launch the site, which debuted March 7.
Butler said they're also looking at the cost of using an application
service provider, where a third party would manage the site from a central