California might be broke, but it still spends $2 billion on IT (not including salaries) each year. If cleantech companies can find ways to both save money and reduce emissions, they may have a golden opportunity to help the state government, said two State of California program directors in an on-stage interview at Green:Net.
“Saving money in this environment is the greenest green,” said Adrian Farley, chief deputy director for policy and program management for the State of California. But in the long term, he added, a double bottom line is best.
Another benefit to having the state as a customer is exposure, said Will Semmes, chief deputy director of the California Department of General Services. “In aggregate, local governments can do about 10 times the business that states do in a lot of different areas. Being on a state contract could open up interest from municipalities.”
So how can startups get their ideas in front of a cash-strapped government? Farley and Semmes said there are a lot of things they need fixed. First of all, they want data analysis and processes to analyze the efficiency of everything they do, buy, and operate now. Excel can only do so much, said Semmes. And the state needs help understanding what progress it has made on a number of environmental mandates. Beyond reducing carbon emissions from infrastructure, Farley said the state government is also dedicated to preventing activities that have a negative impact on the environment — so companies have an opportunity to help California know that impact.
Some companies may not even realize what avenues exist for them to get in on government projects, the two men said. Companies with less than $30 million in revenue qualify as small businesses in California, qualifying them for all sorts of opportunities. There are also a lot of smaller projects — $1.5 million and under — that are awarded often.