Buying with public money is difficult; it requires many things, not least scruples, skill, integrity (if done well) – the list goes on. But one thing is certain, the outcome must be about Value and Transparency. That brings us to a very useful article in Government Technology (and thanks to Hal Good for alerting us to it). By design, some might say, if done ‘properly’ public sector buying is often bureaucratic, admin-heavy and – a lengthy process! So this article suggests 11 ways to speed up the buying cycle while staying compliant and protecting public interest. It gives insight and first-hand experiences from 11 public sector procurement leaders on how they changed their approach to tech buying.
The examples are from the US, but the approaches are universally adaptable. We’ve seen more evidence of both issues and possible solutions in the UK public sector as well. A long, drawn-out and still-not-completed process for the latest Crown Commercial Service Management Consultancy framework has been an example of how long and expensive bidding processes can be for everyone. On the other hand, initiatives such as the Crown Marketplace and G-Cloud have brought more speed and innovation to the procurement cycle.
As the article reports: “Government purchasing is notoriously slow, especially around technology,” says a senior legal technology specialist in the Ohio Attorney General’s office who needed digital tools to help review legal documents – which took 9 months! “The same safeguards that ensure open competition, all the rules and regulations that guarantee taxpayer dollars are wisely spent, also cause the gears to grind.”
It goes on to outline 11 short best practice public procurement approaches which offer a ‘speedier’ solution. They include:
Cooperative Purchasing – in this scheme, one state vets vendors on behalf of the cooperative, saving others the need to run redundant RFPs.
Strategic Sourcing – speeding up procurement by tailoring the RFP. Which links through to similar posts on the subject like Getting Smarter About RFPs.
Internal Work Groups – forming a Salesforce user group to vet each other’s needs and identify solutions together.
Buy Solutions, Not Specs – focusing less on the specifics and looking at the wider outcome required.
Set Standards Early – defining common terms and standards that can be used anytime government buys, rather than starting from scratch each time.
Read the whole article here for the remainder of the ‘approaches’ and to get a fuller take on the ones mentioned above.
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