Board of Equalization releases CROS proposal

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The Board of Equalization today released its much anticipated request for proposal (RFP) to get started on the Centralized Revenue Opportunity System (CROS), according to Project Director Eric Steen.   CROS will replace the legacy business tax collection system with a modern version that uses data to improve efficiencies, better detect fraud, enhance taxpayer services and ultimately collect more state revenues.

Similar to the Franchise Tax Board’s Enterprise Data to Revenue system, CROS will use a benefit-based procurement approach that pays the vendor based on a percentage of revenue collected.

"While the release of the RFP is significant, the procurement is just a part of the strategy to replace our legacy systems," said Steen.  "Rather than merely soliciting the services of a system integrator, the BOE is currently undertaking tasks commonly handled by contractors. In particular, we’re taking on tasks that often pose challenges on large IT projects."

Prior to today’s release, much of the tax agency’s efforts have been spent on a pre-implementation effort that Steen hopes will uncover problems that commonly derail projects, such as poor data quality, a lack of subject matter expertise and undocumented interfaces.  Running parallel with the development of the RFP, activities included data cleansing, documenting business rules, cataloging and automating interfaces, and documenting ancillary systems that could impact project scope.

The effort included the establishment of the Data Governance Council, consisting of BOE managers and executives, which settles issues pertaining to the quality and security of data.   The result will be for the vendor to have a pristine set of data to work with as the solution is developed.

State employees should also have greater involvement and ownership of the project, says Steen, so that the system integrator has a clear target for the solution and can be relied upon for expertise that is truly outside of the state’s capabilities.

"We expect that this approach will lower costs, mitigate risks, and accelerate progress," he said

The estimated total budget for CROS is $269 million.   Once the system is fully implemented in 2020, it will increase an estimated $200 million in increased revenue annually for the state general fund.

Steen will give a presentation on CROS to the general assembly at the upcoming GTC West conference on August 20.

See a copy of the RFP here (PDF, 28MB – 1268 pages).

Bill Maile was editor of Techwire from 2011 to 2016.