As you may have guessed from previous posts, one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing procurement professionals say things like “That doesn’t apply to us” or “We don’t do that here” when discussing procurement best practices. My response is always something like “How could you adapt it to make it work for your situation?” or “It’s not a matter of whether you do it, it’s a matter of whether you should be doing it.”
One area that I hear a lot of those “doesn’t apply” or “don’t do that here” statements is government procurement. While there are certainly some progressive government organizations out there, there are many that are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to modern procurement.
I was pleased to read an article in the New York Times (hat tip to Dick Locke) where the former deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services called out other states for their poor procurement practices and cited the examples of how Pennsylvania was light years ahead of them in terms of procurement.
How did Pennsylvania surge ahead?
They “borrowed an approach used by businesses.”
What was that approach?
And the results were impressive:
- The state saved $19 million annually on computers
- They saved $4 million dollars by rationalizing their office products supply chain
- And they “saved Pennsylvania taxpayers $360 million annually across dozens of contracts”
All by borrowing an approach from the private sector. In my opinion, any government that is not looking to the private sector to adopt better procurement practices is doing taxpayers a disservice. Every government procurement department should be open to ideas from the private sector and actively learning what they can about how for-profit businesses succeed in their procurement efforts.
Whether or not a government agency is willing to consider private sector procurement practices is the litmus test for spotting old-school government procurement. And old-school government procurement typically fails the taxpayer.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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