Tim Van Hoff may now be the COO of MiCTA (Michigan Collegiate Telecommunications Association), but he came to the organization after using them as a customer for video services for a rural K-12 school system.
"Someone told me you could get T1 lines for a fraction of a price for distance learning from the traditional telco," Van Hoff said. "I became a believer not only in the prices they offered, but also the collective expertise I could use. After sticking with MiCTA for a long time as a member in the K-12 space, I was eventually invited to run for the board and then opportunity came along to become the COO of MiCTA."
Yes, unlike the other members of this new report, MiCTA isn't a service provider.
Instead, they are actually a purchasing agency for state and local government (S&L), education (colleges and K-12 school districts), health care operators and any non-profit entity. But MiCTA's role in simplifying the buying and Request for Proposal (RFP) process for government agencies and the service provider community is worth noting.
Currently, MiCTA works with all of the brand name service providers, including AT&T, Qwest, Verizon and Sprint.
The organization provides benefits to both government agencies and the vendors that sell to them alike in that they simplify the RFP process for both S&L agencies and other non-profit entities that need communications services.
"What we do is save money for the taxpayers and allow educational and state and local governments to take what they would have spent on other services and repurpose that towards accomplishing their missions," Van Hoff said.
Van Hoff adds MiCTA's approach can also speed up the purchasing and implementation time of a specific service because they "aggregate demand so that the volume is there for the vendor because save money by not responding to multiple bids, while members save money and time because they only have to reference the master service agreement with locked in terms and pricing."
In one example, an S&L government decided to turn to MiCTA for help in purchasing a videoconferencing system because it did not have a contract in place, but they had to use federal dollars in a particular window. After using the MiCTA contract, the state got the system they needed and were finished.
However, Van Hoff still can't understand why some states try to go it alone. "Since MiCTA fast tracks things, it's a puzzle to me why some institutions do it on their own where they will typically end up with one solution in a bidding process," he said. "If MiCTA finds more than one solution for a service that gives our members choice and do the price comparison online and make the decision on which company they want to go with."
As state and local governments and other non-profits' CIOs are being forced to cut their technology spending budgets, MiCTA will likely continue to be an attractive option to purchase new services to get their respective missions completed.