CAL-Buy upgraded, expanded
- By Brian Robinson
- Jul 09, 2001
California has moved to the second phase of its new e-procurement program,
adding some 90 suppliers and more than 2,500 variable-price items, just
three months after the March launch of the California Buying Network, CAL-Buy.
Government buyers throughout the state now have online access to more
than 270 suppliers and more than 5,000 products.
The first phase provided fixed-price items for the program. A third
phase will give buyers the ability to purchase non-priced items such as
services, but the schedule for phase three has not been decided. It's also
up in the air whether that part of CAL-Buy will be hosted internally or
outsourced to an application service provider, said Arun Baheti, California's
director of e-government.
CAL-Buy automates the state's procurement order and approval process, while using
the Internet to link buyers to existing state government contracts. Baheti
said only three or four government departments are online with CAL-Buy,
but the intention is to move all departments away from the current paper-based
procurement process and toward using only CAL-Buy.
Small businesses are given special prominence on CAL-Buy Web sites,
giving them what Baheti called "access to eyeballs" in the competition to
sell goods to government. With small businesses making up nearly 98 percent
of all business in the state and employing more than 50 percent of the workforce,
state agencies are under an executive mandate from Gov. Gray Davis to "pursue
aggressively" an annual 25 percent small business participation in state
At some point, Baheti added, the CAL-Buy service will be offered to
local governments and schools.
The CAL-Buy program was built from start to launch in just five months,
according to Audrey Harrell, who heads the California state government practice
for Accenture, which oversaw the development of the program. The approach
was structured to be expandable, starting with just a small number of agencies,
contractors and goods, but ready to grow when necessary.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.