The Financial Information System for California – FI$Cal – a project that will create an integrated financial management system for the state, will begin a final negotiation round next week in a unique procurement process that project officials hope will save the state money, FI$Cal director Michael Reyna said Wednesday.
IBM, CGI group and Accenture have worked with FI$Cal in the procurement process, with project directors sharing information about how the state conducts business and what kind of system the company that secures the contract must provide, Reyna said. The state usually issues an RFP, vendors compete for a contract and then, once a contract is signed, the requirements are discussed in greater detail. The process can make financial estimates faulty and drive up the project’s estimated cost, he said.
“We think it’s a model for the state to consider seriously going forward on these types of large projects,” said Reyna, who stressed how beneficial the procurement process has been.
While the original project estimate came in at $1.6 billion, Reyna said he hopes the procurement process will allow planners to account for contingencies up front and ultimately come in under the estimate, a goal that has been focused on during negotiations.
After a long process of sharing information with contractors, FI$Cal has now completed negotiations with IBM and CGI and will begin negotiations with Accenture next week, Reyna said. The process will take about three weeks.
“Once we’re finished with this and finally score the bids, we will have a winner and ultimately an attempt to award in January or February,” he said.
A following 90-day legislative pause will place the project in the middle of state budget negotiations, timing Reyna says will allow FI$Cal officials to make a strong argument for project funding. The project remains on track to let a contract in May 2012.
“The business case is overwhelming and there is a tremendous need for this enterprise-wide approach to financial management,” Reyna said. “I wholeheartedly believe that this is the direction that the state of California needs to go.”
Meanwhile, the project has spent more than $55 million in five years on project inception, preparing for procurement, and clarifying project needs, according to figures offered during a legislative hearing. FI$Cal also recently signed an estimated $800,000, 16-month contract with Delegata for project management assistance and hired a former Office of System Integration Chief Information Officer as CIO for FI$Cal.
With the procurement process nearly completed, Reyna said he feels optimistic about the future of the project.
“We’re very, very excited,” he said.”