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Pawlenty Pointedly Posts RFP for Online Overhaul

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, October 22 2009

The Republican National Committee might have been a bit red in the face when a skeletal Request for Proposal on the revamping of its website became public, but Minnesota's Republican Governor -- and possible 2012 presidential candidate -- Tim Pawlenty has decided to make shine sunlight on the innerworkings of the process for upgrading his TimPawlenty.com. Pawlenty, whose PAC Freedom First has reportedly been working with new media vets like Mindy Finn, Patrick Ruffini, and Liz Mair, pointedly posted the RFP for the site's redesign, an overhaul that will include design and branding, a new content management system (home-grown or out of the box), an email backend, platform features like user accounts and event planning, fundraising capabilities, a contact database and plan, as well as a recommendation for a mobile provider. "PAC staff," details the RFP, "will have the ability to send text messages to its base of supporters, with an ability to segment geographically and on any other data points we collect."

Posting the RFP -- and having allies like Ruffini tweet out that the RFP had been posted -- is probably a double win for Pawlenty. First off, a more open process might just attract new talent and new thinking in a field that has traditionally been monopolized by a few vendors, some of whom work by developing one site template for one candidate or campaign and then replicating to near the point of total exhaustion; Pawlenty makes a point of inviting bids from "from all comers, even if your firm has not traditionally been involved in politics." Secondly, peeling back the curtain on a PAC's internal happenings helps paint Pawlenty as a new kind of politician, one embracing of the strain of openness and transparency that is proving to have some political appeal on both the right and left.

Better get cracking, though. Proposals are due by November 4th, which is two weeks from yesterday. And Team Pawlenty wants a first version of the new site up and running within 45 days of the awarding of the contract.