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18F starts allowing ‘p-cards’ for state and local government

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To provide additional help with IT upgrades during the pandemic, the federal government’s digital services agency, 18F, announced on Tuesday that state and local governments can now use government-issued credit cards to purchase its technology design and procurement services.

The new process is designed to allow state and local agencies to take advantage of the 18F services already available to federal agencies, by offering a more streamlined, cost-effective method of purchasing. Using a purchase card, or “p-card,” state and local governments can pay for purchases similar to how consumers use bank-issued credit cards. States often issue p-cards to contracting officers who make repetitive, high-volume purchases like office supplies.

Tuesday’s announcement on Twitter, however, indicates agencies will be able to access 18F’s expertise with digital services more quickly than ever before.

Some the of the services 18F says it’s offering to state and local agencies are assistance in developing procurement strategies, as well as guiding them through vendor evaluations and the principles of user-centered design.

For states and local governments dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks that are overwhelmed with unprecedented burdens on their medical and unemployment IT systems, 18F said on its website it is working “shoulder to shoulder” with in-house government employees. Technology-based nonprofits and other volunteers have also offered their help to fix and modernize state and local governments’ legacy IT systems, but many agencies say they lack the bandwidth to establish new partnerships during the peak of the pandemic, which has killed 59,000 people in the United States.

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