Los Angeles County Chief Information Officer Bill Kehoe discussed the agency's tech initiatives on Sept. 26 at the Techwire Industry Briefing in Los Angeles. ( Theo Douglas/Techwire )

The nation’s most populous county is in the early stages on two initiatives that should lead to RFPs, and has had promising results from a process used to solve business problems, its technology leader said recently.

Los Angeles County will seek private-sector ideas for solutions to improve access to beach parking and to assist the homeless, Chief Information Officer Bill Kehoe said during a conversation with technology vendors in which he also discussed the county’s five IT enterprise strategic goals and shared how the agency is working to make its process more innovative and inclusive. Among the takeaways:

• L.A. County’s five IT enterprise strategic goals include mobility, “driving forward with new apps, new ways of working, mobile devices, wireless,” its CIO said, as well as “unified communications, wireless expansion and capacity; mobile devices and cloud,” and Software as a Service. Data as a utility speaks to his belief that a future differentiator for private and public organizations will be how well they use data, and how accessible and secure it is. Digital civic engagement embodies one of the agency’s core aims — doing a good job at engaging with the residents it serves. Workforce empowerment includes making sure that as the county itself undergoes a digital transformation, it creates “a more innovative culture” and ensures staffers “have the skillset to go into these new areas.” And transform procurement refers to addressing pain points in the county’s procurement process.

“Procurement is all about doing things competitively within the laws and the rules, so we don’t want to violate that," Kehoe told Techwire in an interview. "But where we can streamline, make it easier for industry partners to engage with us, that’s really the goal. Because it doesn’t do us any good if people can’t get on our master contracts.” 

• The CIO’s office has used a new process in its collaboration with departments on “certain business processes and programs,” Kehoe said. It includes a workshop on the business problem to stimulate ideas; synthesizing those ideas into themes and challenge areas; engaging vendors through a vendor forum or RFI; and issuing a solicitation. So far, it’s been used on the homeless initiative and beach parking. The hope here, Kehoe said, is to offer vendors a solicitation that isn’t overly restrictive, but empowers tech companies to flex their problem-solving muscles.

• The county should release an RFP this quarter seeking ideas from vendors related to its ongoing homelessness initiative. The project’s challenge areas include four projects for which it will seek bids: on a centralized customer portal; for operational reporting of performance outcomes; for a geo-mapping hub and resources; and for customer-driven digital services.

Like other projects, this RFP will “require a user-centered design approach,” Kehoe said on Sept. 26 at the Techwire Industry Briefing with Los Angeles County. He urged vendors to consider bidding if they share that approach, but cautioned “these are not your multimillion-dollar projects.”

“That’s another huge change in this approach is, time to market has to be fast and it can’t cost millions of dollars. And we’re looking for what are you potentially going to want to give back into the project,” Kehoe said.

• An RFP or solicitation for beach parking — at coastal areas that can be congested and highly wearing on many types of outdoor equipment — is further off.

“We’re still working through the challenge areas we want to focus on. But yeah, we’re well on our way on that one, too,” Kehoe said.