In his keynote address at the annual Health IT Conference in Washington, Chopra discussed how the current RFP model, originally created to provide fairness in procuring commodity products, does not fit well with complex technology acquisitions such as information systems and services.
He says he intends to seek a different approach to acquire health and other IT-related systems. This includes tools such as www.DefenseSolutions.gov–a web-site touted as a “new ideas portal.” The site outlines DoD problems by categorized “themes” and seeks vendor input on possible solutions. It also promises to deliver initial feedback on proposed ideas within 30 days.
First, while some vendors may be very comfortable with the traditional RFP process, the change in approach Chopra advocates may be well received by many others in the technology sector. The current one-way street of government procurement no doubt inhibits creative thinking and development. Further, the allure of a large government contract can often lead technology companies to developing around a limited or unique set of features desired only by government prospects, while sacrificing more creative R&D or broader market applications.
Second, for this to succeed, the government must implement measures to protect intellectual property in the “concept stage.” Companies will be hesitant to have a free flowing exchange of ideas regarding undeveloped technology if there is fear such interaction will ultimately result in lost economic opportunities.
In all, we believe this new way of thinking will provide positive results if it can be fully executed. Such an approach better taps into America’s greatest asset–it’s creative and assertive people.