Public procurement organizations are only proficient in four of the 12 key competencies the workforce needs to be effective, according to the more than 40 experts interviewed for this report: “Doing the People’s Business: Key Competencies for Effective Public Procurement.”
The Volcker Alliance—in conjunction with Censeo Consulting Group and Public Spend Forum—mined the expertise of a wide range of experts in the field to create a draft competency model, identifying the skills most needed by the public procurement workforce. Download it and join the discussion around the model. We’re always looking for feedback as we look to refine it.

The report groups the the 12 competencies into three areas:

  1. Process and Policy Comprehension: Competencies related to compliance with the rules, regulations, and traditional processes of public procurement
  2. Functional Requirements and Analytical Skills: Strategic and technical competencies required to plan and execute contracts and purchases
  3. Stakeholder Engagement: Effective communication with internal customers, industry, and suppliers

The study found that as the skills grew more complex—or at the very least “softer”—the proficiency as rated by the experts decreased. For instance, the three competencies within the process and policy comprehension—where the more transactional competencies such as those around contracting processes and policies and regulations—averaged 57% proficiency, whereas the interpersonal skills required by stakeholder engagement averaged only 27% proficiency.

The report acknowledges that it’s not the first of its kind; there have been a number of attempts to create competency models in the past. But many of those competency models list 50 or more total competencies, making them difficult for organizations to adopt, the authors argue. By focusing on just the 12 competencies, “this model will be accessible to a variety of public procurement organizations—from small offices seeking a training enhancement to large agencies exploring a capacity overhaul,” the report states. “This accessibility to public agencies, policymakers, and public affairs educators is essential given that procurement is often overlooked or misunderstood.”

And the authors are quick to point out that the study is not meant to be definitive. In the “work to be done” section, they write that as a next step the Alliance would like feedback on the model to further refine it, and to better understand how the public procurement workforce is being trained, to get a clearer picture of what can be improved on the “supply side.”

 

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