Session 3: Cooperative Agreements

I'm actually Lynn Hottie-Blue. I'm the Deputy Chief Procurement Officer at DIR and this is Teresa Williamson and she's the program manager at DIR. So we're the IT agency for the state of Texas. That's all we do. We don't do construction. So how many IT vendors do I have in the house? What? What? That's more than I thought. Great. How many of y'all are construction vendors? So the two leading industries in the state of Texas, construction and IT, and those of you that didn't raise your hand, everybody else needs your services and products. So make sure you're connecting and contacting each other and networking with one another because they may need what you're selling to help sell their service or product. So keep that tucked away in the back of your mind. Network, network, network.

So like I said, we're the IT agency for the state of Texas. That's all we do. And when I say state of Texas, we are a state agency. So we are co-op-like, we are co-op-ish, but we're an actual state agency. So, just like TEX.DPS, HHSC, we're a state agency, and we were legislatively mandated to implement and manage all IT-related contracts for the state of Texas, lucky us. So that's what we do, and that is all that we do. And you can see in the little bubbles some of our program areas. So, when you hear about DIR, primarily when people are talking about DIR, asking you if If you're a DIR vendor, are you on the list? We don't have a list. We don't have a registration. They're asking, do you have a contract with DIR? And they're mainly referring to that cooperative contracts program. But we also have our shared technology services program area. So have any of y'all renewed your driver's license online or ordered a birth certificate online.

That's through our contract. And those are some of the services that are offered under that umbrella. And then we have our data center services piece to that. Security, TDIS, all kinds of fun service offerings for our mandatory customers that are required to run through SDS and data center services. And then we have our statewide data program. Have any of y'all searched Did y'all, oh, what? Bonus, you win the gold star. It is a portal for anyone, any agency, any entity to post information that should be readily available to the public, so i.e. are they getting a lot of requests for public information requests to share that data. So for entities that are, they're just automatically uploading the data to that website, that portal.

We upload our sales data to that portal. So, you can go in and see who's buying what and who's selling what. I mentioned and then our technology planning and policy group, our communications technology services group, and security, IT security is hot button. I know you all had a couple of entities around here a couple of years ago that had some ransomware attacks. our group within our agency monitors that and we're actually a free resource to other entities to help with those attacks. But how do you get a contract? How do you get on the list? Like I said we don't have a list and we do not have a registration so it's not like you go and sign up like you would for tips.

We competitively post and procure and award all of our contracts were required to so that our state our our users can use our contracts because they work competitively competed and awarded so how do we do that we post everything to our website and our electronic state business daily I don't care what you're selling in this room are you all familiar with the ESPD I did not see a hand oh good thank you I heard a voice and I heard some hands y'all need to bookmark the ESPD because not only does DIR post our with our procurement opportunities on that website other state agencies post their procurement opportunities and then we have cooperative members that is something different from DIR entities that pay the comptroller's office to use state contracts and services and so many of those entities like ISDs, small cities, small counties that don't have a means to post their own procurement opportunities will use that website as well. So anything that's over $25,000 is required to be posted to the ESPD but you will see lower dollar valued items by other entities that will post there and you can search by entity type You can search by class and item code When I say class and item codes, do you know what I'm talking about? NIGP class and item codes, quasiish? That's how we identify what we're buying at the state of Texas.

So have any of y'all set up your CMBL profile, your centralized master bidders list profile? Yes, God, this is an advanced group! So when you set yourself up, just like when you're going in and registering for tips, you wanna identify who you are and what you're selling and how we identify what you're selling. And again, I don't care what you're selling. If you're selling bread, if you're selling WIG’s, if you're selling soap, if you're selling cattle, the state of Texas is buying it. Funny, right? But we do, ironically for the prisons. But we're buying it. So we need to know what you're selling. So when you go in and set up that profile, go in and make sure you identify what you're selling. Your services and your products. Anything below the 900 series is commodities related. anything 900 and above is services related so my construction folks in the audience you'll want to look at those as well but make sure you're not identifying more than what you sell if you sell signs don't tell me that you can also build a highway or provide mortuary services you know don't sign up for everything sign up for what you provide because if you're registered on or CNBL, anything that is posted to the ESPD that's over $25,000, if you've got those class and item codes identified, you're automatically going to receive a notice that that bid opportunity is out there. If you're not identifying what you're selling, we can't find you and we can't notify you of those opportunities. And that's across the board. That is for construction. That's for IT.

That is for anything that y'all are selling. And we buy WIGS too. The state does, I don't, we don't, DIR does not. But we post those generally for about 30 days, our opportunities. Depending on what those are and how technical those may be, we may extend that, but generally everything we have is posted for about 30 days. Something that is unique about what we do as a state agency, because we are co-oplike, we do multiple awards. So when you're responding to our RFOs, our requests for offers for our cooperative contracts program and you submit. We will go through there and we will rank vendors and we will identify where that first competitive break is and we will negotiate with that grouping of vendors. of vendors. So I'll give you an example, staffing vendors, IT staff augmentation. Do I have any staffing vendors? Do I have any staffing vendors? Yeah, okay. You know it's that contracts posted right now yes no oh you got to find it so last time we went out for a bid for these contracts we had 340 370 ish responses from different vendors we awarded 122 contracts so you don't have to be the low dollar you don't have to be, you don't have to, you know, whittle everything down to be the one and only. We are awarding to multiple vendors, so there's opportunity for you there.

The previous iteration of contracts before that one, we had vendors who had been responding to this at SAC RFO for years who had held contracts for years, and it is as simple as pulling the documents that we have posted, reading those, signing those, and responding and answering the questions we ask you to answer. Some of those vendors took that for granted, and they got very lazy, or sloppy, or just didn't care. And when they responded, 70% of our awarded vendors for IDSAC were brand new vendors who had never had a contract with DIR before, because they could follow instructions. So don't shy away from those opportunities. don't think that it's so big that you can't do it.

Also something that is unique about DIR, staffing, I'll use that one again because it's posted. We have categories of services that are included in that RFO. Typically when you're responding to an agency or a university and they're asking for something that's very specific and you have to provide everything that they are asking for. We give you categories of services and you respond to that procurement opportunity telling us what you can provide. So you don't have to provide all 20 service categories. You can provide one of those and respond in kind to that. You can provide three or four of those. You tell us what you can do and you respond to that. Something else that's a little different about our contracts. We, for ITSAC, for our service related contracts, typically we have a not to exceed rate. So hourly rates for the different categories and you have to accept those.

So you have to charge within that range of hourly rates. You accept that. That is your pricing. That is what you're figuring out. So really you're telling us what services you can provide. You accept those hourly rates, terms and conditions. Don't take exceptions to our terms and conditions because we are the state of Texas and we know what we're doing and we're not going to butch for the most part. If you don't take exceptions to our terms and conditions and you have fallen within that competitive break, that kind of moves you to the front of the line for negotiations because there's not a whole lot to negotiate with you on. You've already accepted that. And for those staffing related contracts that we have, you've already accepted the hourly rates as well. Not a lot to negotiate.

We can quickly award contracts that way. On our commodities related contracts, we don't ask that you provide fixed pricing. We ask that you provide a percentage of discount off of MSRP, because MSRP fluctuates. Sometimes we have sales, sometimes there are really good deals because we've got new products coming out. So you tell us the minimum you're going to give off of MSRP. And so if Dallas Community College comes to you and they're going to do a computer refresh, and you sell laptops and they want to buy 10,000 laptops you may have said you would give a minimum of 10% off but at that quantity now you can give maybe 25 or 30 percent off so you can give more of a discount if you can and we encourage our customers to negotiate with our vendors to get more of a discount that minimum percentage off of MSRP is what they have to provide to you based on a quantity of one.

Anything above that is negotiable, but you have to do at least that percentage off of MSRP discount that you identified in your response. Make sense? Yeah, so you don't really get down to pricing and dollars until you are providing quotes to our vendors or responding to their bid opportunities. And our contracts are in place for about four years. I say that because some are five, some are six, but for the most part the co-op contracts, we re-procure those every four years, so that's why IDSAC is exciting because it's been a while since we had that one on the street. And D-Bits for my service providers, D-Bits will be re-procured next year, so after you have sharpened your pencil on IDSAC you can get ready for D-Bits, our deliverable based IT services contract. So, benefits to holding a DIR cooperative contract. State agencies are legislatively mandated to use DIR contracts for all IT purchases. So, state agencies cannot go outside of that unless their procurement is going to exceed $10 million, and in that instance, they would have to do that procurement themselves. So, everybody that is a state agency is required to come to DIR contracts first. eligible customers don't need an agreement. They don't need to sign anything. Those in-state eligible customers don't have to. Now we have out-of-state eligible customers and they do sign an agreement with DIR. It's a two-page document. We have customers in 48 of the 50 states and we have about 200, 400, I don't know if it's 200 or 400 out-of-state entities, but they are like kind entities. So other state agencies, other counties, other cities, other K through 12 private schools throughout the United States, when you are awarded a contract you can market and sell that contract to any of our eligible customers. So it kind of opens up who you can sell that opportunity to.

Something else to you, we implement and manage these contracts, but the customers will issue the POs directly to you. They don't facilitate any of that purchasing through us. They handle all of that on their own. So you get to go and deal with the customers directly. Isn't that a blessing? So we have other, and at the bottom it talks about our ICC's, other out-of-state entities that you can sell those opportunities to. So if you go through that competitive bidding process and you're awarded a contract, it doesn't guarantee you anything outside of the fact that you now have a contract that you get to sell. So it's your license to hunt, yeah. So eligible customers, Texas state agencies, mandatory customers institutions of higher education, they're voluntary customers, although we're looking at the language around that and it's going to shock them if that changes.

Local governments other organizations, ERCOT yeah, they get to buy off of of our contracts too. Private schools, hospital districts, volunteer fire departments, an array of entities that get to use our contracts. That's just more opportunities for you to market those contracts to. So this is just a snapshot, and we didn't wrap up sales until last week. So actually last year, September to August, we had $3.3 billion in sales that rolled through our contracts. over $1.2 billion went to hub certified vendors. So a third, over a third of all of our sales went to hub firms. Yay, that's exciting. But you can see how it's broke down by the different sectors, state agencies and local governments were about tied and then K through 12 came in a little bit under that.

That will fluctuate some of those front runners, sometimes our K through 12 or higher institutions of higher education state for the state we're usually at about 25% give or take a percentage and then you can see our outof- state sales that is the fact fastest growing sector of our eligible customers so that just means more opportunities for you. So again, how do you become a vendor? how do you find those opportunities? we have this beautiful page called the schedule of solicitation opportunities page where we post everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything!

So on September 1 That is the start date of our new fiscal year We will go out and update this page and we will identify all of the planned Procurements for that fiscal year so we're going to update that and tell you what we're going to let out forbid that year So you can plan we post our pre solicitation notices our request for information when it rolls to the posting phase and is posted and published out on the ESBD you can see which RFOs fall into that section and then evaluations and negotiations and then it rolls over into awarded contracts. So we try to identify everything we're going to do and at what phase we're in so that you can track that progress as well. So you can easily you find this on our website under selling through DIR and at the bottom schedule of solicitations opportunities page for any open RFOs.

And this is what it looks like when you get to that page. Now I've talked about responding to bid opportunities. I've talked about RFOs, requests for offers. That's the procurement vehicle that we use. That's a procurement method that is identified for IT purchases. That is why we use that method. you're not gonna see an RFP with us, you're not gonna see a CSP with us, that's a construction method. So understand how your customers are buying, I don't care what you're selling, understand how they're buying, understand what they're buying, something that is unique about DIR, again we may have awarded contracts. There may not be an RFO that is currently posted that is relative to the products or services that you provide, it's okay.

We have awarded contracts and you can partner with those contract holders and possibly be added to their contract through their hub subcontracting plan, and possibly sell your services under that. And I say possibly because everybody has to agree on the situation but typically in our DBITS and ITSAT categories they are constantly looking for subcontractors, constantly looking for subcontractors because if any of y'all paid attention in the last three years that little pandemic thing we had to deal with. A lot of people outsourced staffing and we needed resources.

A lot of people quit and left and I'm jealous because I can't retire but things changed so our customers needs changed and that created a lot of opportunity in that it's second D bits category so they were those contract holders were busy looking for subcontractors other individuals and Yes, this is our this is our schedule solicitation opportunities page where you'll find all those RFO opportunities And then you can search those contracts to find those commodity related opportunities for bids Opportunities to be possibly a reseller and you're gonna want to reach out to them if I have any resellers in the audience if you're reselling different brands search those brands They will pull up related contracts you can also be on more than one contract you can respond to an RFO with us as a prime and tell us what services or products you're going to provide and you can be included on two or three other respondents proposals as a subcontractor there's more than one way to skin a cat okay so do I have any hub certified vendors in the audience excellent excellent excellent if you are interested in that you don't know what it is come talk to us we'll help you I mentioned the CMBL it's a $70 a year fee which is minimal and compared to the opportunities you could be receiving. Texas Smart Buy with the ESBD that is where that electronic state business daily is posted. Hub coordinator contact list. I talked about finding who's buying what you're selling.

If you're a hub certified vendor or a potential hub certified vendor you can use this hub coordinator contact list and find all of the hub coordinators for all of the state agencies and universities throughout the state of Texas. Why is that important? They are your doorway into that entity. They literally get paid to help you use it. Their phone numbers and email addresses are there. They're a very friendly group of people. We've got a bunch of new hub coordinators that are kind of feeling their way through the process. Jump on the bandwagon with them and feel it out with them. The hub reports. Who's buying what? That report is posted on the Comptroller's website, and you can go back five or six fiscal years to go in to see what agencies and universities were buying, how much they spent with vendors so you can see your competition. You can get an idea of what they have bought in the past and then again reach out to those hub coordinators and identify what are they going to buy in the future. We have two calendars for hub events on the Comptroller's website. One is the Comptroller's sponsored calendar, so those are only events they're sponsoring and another one is a general calendar where everybody can post what events are going on throughout the state. I encourage you to look at that. I encourage you to pencil in May 14th and 15th at the Irving Convention Center. The state of Texas is gonna be there for the Senator West doing business Texas style spot bid fair where many things are purchased under that long title. But that is one of your opportunities to potentially meet with approximately 80 state agencies and universities.

I say 80, there's 260 some odd state agencies and universities, about 80 attend. It's your opportunity for FaceTime for two days with those individuals. So and it's free. It just costs your time. So mark that on your calendars. And then text ramp. Do I have any software vendors in the crowd? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, okay. Not applicable to the rest of y'all. So that's kind of what we do in a nutshell and we are here. And like I said, if you have questions, that is our DIR hub email. Send the questions. I have Teresa and a team of hub coordinators that are there to help you. They are resources for you I know we do IT, but we really have to know more than that. We work with our construction agencies We work with the other agencies on what they have going on and different opportunities and how they're Tackling some of their problems. So if we don't buy it and We don't have it available at our agency. Probably we know who is buying that we know where to send you. So come see us Thanks for watching!