A $10 trillion sector globally, the government market is enormous by any standard—and extremely complex. Although changes have been made over the years to streamline certain processes and practices, several barriers still stand in the way of companies seeking to do business with governments around the world. As such, Public Spend Forum (PSF), in collaboration with Ivalua and faculty from North Carolina State University, has undertaken a major study to identify what these barriers are—and how to lower them. 

In PSF’s continued effort to better understand barriers faced by all companies, large or small, new to government or incumbent, we sat down with several government professionals to discuss their insights on the issues.

Here, Iris Cooper, who serves as the Assistant Secretary for Procurement, Contracts and Grants at the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, discusses the biggest challenges for her organization and who they work toward facilitating collaboration with non-traditional, innovative companies.

Challenges that Pose Biggest Obstacles

When it comes to identifying non-traditional, innovative companies, Cooper shared that the complexity of the government process leads to several barriers for those companies. From the cost of compliance to a complex solicitation where “100 important things mean nothing is important,” it becomes difficult to engage with those innovative suppliers.

Cooper also discussed how the regulatory environment is another barrier to entry for non-traditional, innovative companies as well as poor communication, partly a result of poor planning. When organizations are in crisis mode, it’s not conducive to good sourcing. So if they want it bad, they’ll get it bad which often results in awarding the same suppliers. Often, organizations don’t communicate timely and that can be especially challenging for small businesses so organizations need to start earlier with market research and market understanding.

Ways to Address Supplier Entry Barriers

We asked Cooper to share instances where she oriented a market research and/or market engagement approach to facilitate identification and collaboration with non-traditional innovative companies. She shared how NCDHHS introduced best value concept.  While there’s a need to better articulate and implement as well as have more internal discussions on specifying needs and requirements, there is also a need for more honesty and transparency with industry, too.

“It’s okay to meet with companies to enhance supplier engagement and provide feedback in addition to clarity in communication focus is on having meaningful business discussions,” Cooper says. She mentioned how there should be a focus on treating suppliers equally and providing equal access. One method that was very illuminating was the reverse industry days with supplier feedback.

If you are a government leader or a company already working in the public sector or seeking to do business within government markets, please take 5 minutes now to submit valuable feedback and contribute to real comprehensive solutions to public sector procurement.

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Additionally, if you would like to partner with Public Spend Forum in rolling this survey throughout your organization, please get in touch with our study team. We will provide you with a unique survey link that will give you an organizational view of the survey results in comparison to the full data set.

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