News Roundup: Procurement and Government

This week’s news centered around procurement processes and tools, and how government organizations are innovating in these spaces.

More and more modern companies are seeing the need to simplify processes and move faster in all areas of business. Procurement in particular has been a focus for governments that feel the need to keep up with other cities and countries by implementing digital technology and becoming more agile. This week in the news, the Pentagon and San Francisco’s government officials continue to work towards becoming more digital and forward-thinking through technology.

Faced with increased criticism, Pentagon slashes cloud computing contract awarded to an Amazon partner

The Pentagon has been a focus in the tech world recently as they signed a contract with Rean Cloud to help move their information to the Cloud. Following the signing, they faced criticism around the choice, resulting in the filing of a bid protest. One reason for the filing was the fact that Rean is said to serve as a front for Amazon Web Services, which could be a conflict of interest. The Cloud provider for the Pentagon has not been chosen yet. Rean’s co-founder, Sekhar Puli, claims that the contract does not explicitly state a Cloud provider, but rather mandates that Rean has to work with any provider that the Pentagon agencies request. Although the Pentagon claims to have changed the contract, Puli states that to date, he has not received anything in writing and has only heard about these adjustments through the media. He is currently waiting for the Pentagon to respond before enacting any changes.

Meet PAIGE, San Francisco’s promising young IT procurement chatbot

What better place to streamline processes by incorporating technology than Silicon Valley? That’s what San Francisco’s Office of Contract Administration is moving towards, as they introduced their latest tool for workers across the city government: PAIGE, a chatbot that will help employees buy IT products. The contract department began the initiative for PAIGE when an employee working in IT procurement was repeatedly fielding the same questions from many different employees. Aware that governments had many rules and regulations to comply with, the employee set out to make information easier to understand and find exactly what is needed.

PAIGE is exciting for two reasons: first, government organizations are looking to move their business into the future by using digital tools, and this is one that looks very promising for the employee side, not to mention what will happen if they begin creating consumer-facing products. PAIGE is built by a San Francisco tech company that makes apps and interactive kiosks, so there’s a possibility that San Francisco officials could eventually use PAIGE or other similar chatbots for citizens that come to their website for answers and help. Second, procurement teams are also looking to make buying processes easier across a company and for their teams, and the chatbot helps increase efficiency on both sides. The product is currently successful, although in its early stages, and the plan is to continue to add functionality so that PAIGE gets smarter and adds more value as time goes on.

Across the U.S., governments and businesses alike are looking to move faster, smarter, and create more efficiency in their organizations. Whether it be migrating to the Cloud or creating chatbots, expect the future to include more technology that will better assist employees and help them focus on becoming more strategic.