Agile Cities publishes a survey directed at companies that provide innovative products, services and solutions to cities, local governments or municipalities that undergo a competitive or other selection process.
Our objective is to learn about what processes companies use to sell innovations to cities, and in particular how they are able to provide evidence of their solution’s track record and viability, and how you build trust in the information you provide.
Our concern is that cities and local governments find it hard to accurately discern not only the technical viability of a new solution, but whether the references provided by the vendors are accurate, among other facts. The United Nations Development Programme qualifies the possible consequences as significant on counts of fairness, ethical liability, and risk of unsuitable solution providers and recommend independent validation and due diligence and reference checks on suppliers.
This independent validation is a central theme of the survey and Agile Cities seeks to explore from both company and city perspectives what standards may be applied that can help not just mitigate the procurement risk, but also build confidence in innovative solutions in the pre-procurement phase. Often, innovative approaches are neglected on the argument that there is too little evidence of track record or results.
In “The Effective Public Manager: Achieving Success in a Changing Government“, Stephen Cohen, William Eimicke and Tanya Ieikkila conclude the difficulties in assessing contractor capabilities” in somewhat worrying terms:
“Once bids are received, government employees must be skilled at reading proposals and judging capabilities. This means the staff members must have the ability to read into the statement of qualifications to determine what is real and what is not. They must also be able to check on the accomplishments that organizations cite in their bids. A firm or an individual may claim credit for the work of other organizations, and sometimes these other organizations may be part of a team that the bidder worked with on a previous assignment. Strictly speaking, the bidder may be entitled to claim the work of a subcontractor, but if this subcontractor is not part of the new bid, such a claim is misleading. This type of reference check requires that your staff have an informal network in the business in question. “
If good decisions about solutions for more than 50% of the worlds population rely on your staff having an “informal network in the business in question” to find out what is true, we believe we are lacking more appropriate and accountable methods.
Take part in Agile Cities to help us find out how.