Calling all local tech companies and freelance developers: the City of Philadelphia wants to work with you and has a new contract site to prove it.
The city’s current site for contracts over $30,000 is not the most accessible: it was previously only viewable with Internet Explorer (though it seems to be working with other browsers now), and RFPs and other details are stored in a mixed bag of PDFs and downloadable Word documents.
The new site, dubbed Big Ideas PHL, initially focuses on tech-related contracts under $30,000, said Chief Data Officer Mark Headd. The goal, Headd said, is to make it easier for the local tech community to learn about city-related contract opportunities. This move is an important acknowledgment of an existing problem — that local firms are often in the dark about city-related work (take, for example, the fact that no local firm applied to develop the city’s 311 app).
How will the new site accomplish its goal? It’s nothing groundbreaking, Headd said of the WordPress site, but it will have alert capabilities that the city’s eContract site does not. It’ll offer email alerts for new listings, an RSS feed and GitHub integration (“I love me some GitHub,” said Headd, a hacker at heart).
This is another step in the city’s effort to work with the local tech community and rethink procurement, how the city contracts with outside firms for services.
Take, for example, the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership, a social entrepreneurship accelerator that will launch with the help of $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The accelerator aims to identify startups that can help solve city problems, acknowledging that the city itself “can’t be everything to everyone,” as Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid has said.
It’s an effort that Ebeid wrote about last month in a post on Technically Philly that advertised an open city contract to develop a civic engagement app.
“We want to develop more effective ways to match the smart people we have in our own community with projects that the city has on its plate,” he said.
The new contract site has been Ebeid’s “baby,” Headd said, adding that Ebeid has been “preaching this stuff since day one,” Headd added.
The site will start out by listing contract opportunities for services like website design and web and mobile app development, Headd said, and the city will consider using the platform to list other types of contracts based on the response it gets.
This site is focused on contracts at $30,000 and below because anything above that requires a more formalized bidding process.
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