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As part of Public Spend Forum’s Leaders Exchange for Public Procurement, we constantly survey public procurement and government contracting leaders from across federal/state/local governments on their strategic priorities. (Please make sure to take the survey on strategic priorities. Results will be made available upon close of the survey.)

Additionally, a discussion on priorities is a key element of our quarterly Exchange meetings. Based on our ongoing survey and discussion, we have gleaned a few key priorities of public procurement leaders, ones that many leaders seemed to be focused on. Below are 5 priorities with some insights provided by leaders from across the spectrum including San Diego, New York, IRS, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Fairfax County VA, and Los Angeles highlighted the following common themes:

Acquisition workforce development to address emerging challenges – As always, a key theme that emerged from our research was the need to focus on workforce development. With the myriad of changes taking place across the government environment, from a retirement tsunami to the adoption of technology and the availability of data, leaders expressed the need to update workforce competencies, redefine positions and roles, reassess training assets and infrastructure, and generally change the way staff are managed and developed. One leader expressed: “Since we’re changing how we’re doing business, the staffing is scary. Who do we have and what skills do they have? Because we’re fundamentally changing how we do biz – do I have the right people on board?”

Eprocurement – Many leaders mentioned the implementation of eprocurement as a means to better enable the procurement function, gain more transparency into performance through data, streamline processes, improve engagement with both customers and suppliers, and drive innovation overall. Leaders can access reports, case studies and video presentations on the Public Spend Forum eProcurement and Procurement Technology page as well as the Procurement Tech Symposium page.

Using lean management principles to improve core procurement processes – Another key priority discussed by procurement leaders was improving their core procurement-related processes to be faster, more streamlined and aligned with their organization’s mission. To that end, many leaders are using “kaizen” and lean events to quickly diagnose processes and develop rapid improvement plans. Leaders also discussed the need to avoid “incremental, band-aid” type improvements and instead focus on larger improvements that drive improved outcomes.“We are refining our strategic sourcing process – standardizing across all commodity teams, using lean principles (eg., visual management huddle boards).”

  • Case Study – Hear how Alaska Chief Procurement Officer Jason Soza is deploying lean to streamline procurement processes in his state.  Listen here.

Shared services, strategic sourcing and pooled buying Leaders also emphasized the need to collaborate, pool purchasing, and work as one as a key priority. For example, a local government CPO discussed how his County is delivering a shared services purchasing center of excellence at the county level to assist school districts and small jurisdictions (towns/villages) in procurement – key issues being addressed include: smaller levels of Government agencies lacking professional staff get bolstered capabilities from shared services, and a greater emphasis on cooperation and collaboration across smaller jurisdictions enables improvement n efficiencies and outcomes for common needs.  The CPO for the city of Los Angeles, Michael Owh, also weighed in emphasizing that the Los Angeles is seeking to be a key service provider for the 40 federated Departments of the city. Clearly, procurement governance can be very complex in federated environments and requires strong leadership from the procurement function. “We have been doing this kind of cooperative procurement on behalf of our municipal members on a number of commodities and services, including IT services, for a number of years …”

Managing competition and the supply base While this is a very broad topic, this priority is focused on deploying the right set of procurement practices that result in finding the best/right suppliers and at best value. The key point here is to continually assess your supply base to ensure depth and quality of competition.  “I’m looking for breadth as well as the quality. Am I getting the same couple bids from the same couple companies?  Always goes back to data – what am I buying and who am I buying it from?”

Public procurement and government contracting leaders have no shortage of areas they can focus on. Prioritizing against the biggest needs is critical. Finding some peers who are taking on similar challenges is helpful in terms of collaboration and to exchange lessons.

Let us know if you would like to learn more about strategic priorities of leaders.  Also, please make sure to take the survey on strategic priorities. Results will be made available upon close of the survey.


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