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"Public Procurement Matters" - Welcome to ProcurePath's "Public Procurement Matters" Blog. Our goal is to discuss the latest public procurement issues from around the world. Stay tuned to discover why "Public Procurement Matters".

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Why Aren't More Public Procurement Professionals Seeking Certification?

Posted on March 31, 2018 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (1)

As the month of March comes to an end, so does Procurement Month; an annual event for Procurement Professionals to celebrate and acknowledge the value they bring to their organizations. When I entered the Procurement Profession almost 30 years ago, I couldn't wait to earn my C.P.M. certification. Why? I saw the certification process as a way to expand my knowledge in many areas, show my employer that I was interested in being the best procurement professional I could be, and position myself for growth opportunities within my organization.


Personally, I see many benefits from obtaining professional certification in public procurement as either a Certified Public Procrement Officer or a Certified Professional Public Buyer, with little or no downside.


So why is it, that after decades since the first Public Procurement Certifications were established, approximately only 25% of active public procurement professionals have achieved professional certification?


Over the years, mostly at speaking events, I have heard many reasons why public procurement professionals choose not to achieve certification. Some of these reasons include:  

  • I am too old
  • My employer doesn't mandate it
  • My employer will not pay for it
  • I don't want to take all the classes necessary to qualify
  • I don't have the time
  • I don't have a degree


While I am sure these can all be valid reasons, are they the real reason? Maybe or Maybe not. 


There is an old saying "You don't know what you don't know". Could it be that some seasoned procurement professionals believe that time in a position or office automatically provides you with all the knowledge and skills needed to perform the job? Are they afraid to learn what they do not know? Maybe or Maybe not.


While we take time during Purchasing Month to promote the value we bring to our organizations, are we failing to see the value in certification, both to our organization and ourselves?


What are your thoughts about why such a low percentage of public procurement professionals seek and achieve certification in public procurement? Speak up and post your comments. Be honest. The future of the profession may be at stake.


Paul J. Brennan, FNIGP, CPPO

Invest in Yourself - Time Management for the Procurement Professional

Posted on March 16, 2018 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

March is Purchasing month and there is no better time to invest in yourself; as you are your greatest asset. What you do with your time, and how you manage yourself, your environment and your relationships, will result in being more productive or less productive.


Time is the great equalizer. Really successful people have the same amount of time as the rest of us. We all have 86,400 seconds or 1440 minutes each day; however we all do not use them to our maximum advantage, and we do not invest them wisely. Why are some people more successful than others? Some may say luck, some may say hard work. One common thread among really successful people is they have become experts at managing time, their environment and their relationships.


Managing time may sound easy, but the fact is, it can be quite challenging. The main challenge we all face is simply taking control of our "time". We are swamped with distractions in our workplace, at home, and even from old habits that leave events, people and circumstances controlling our time. As Procurement professionals we must continually manage multiple priorities.


So during Procurement Month, take some time to assess just how well you are using your time. See how you:

  • Recognize personal strengths and any shortcomings in your approach to managing time as a crucial resource.
  • Organize yourself and your work-space for better efficiency.
  • Take control of your time and make improvements to your daily routine.
  • Set goals and use different time planning methods.
  • Identify time bandits, assess priorities, and handle time related stress more effectively.
  • Use best practice delegation steps.

Managing what we do, and how we do it, can help us be more productive with the time we have. First we have to invest in ourselves, our greatest asset, to provide the skills needed in today's fast paced procurement world.


Celebrate Purchasing Month by investing in yourself. Read some articles, attend a seminar, host a round-table discussion with your peers. Be proud of the value you add to your organization through the procurement process.

Why State and Local Governments Need Certified Procurement Professionals

Posted on October 25, 2017 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)


With State and Local Government spending exceeding $2.8 trillion dollars; there are over a trllion reasons for State and Local Governments to have Certified Public Procurement Professionals. As both state and local government spending continues to rise, the need for procurement reform has risen to the forefront of issues being addressed by State Legislatures and Local Governments. Procurement Reform is needed at the State, Public Authority, Local Government and School District level.

 

Many Procurement Reform initiatives have been implemented across the nation over the past 15-20 years. In the early part of this decade the reform movement has targeted the “professionalism” and “ethical standards” of public procurement and has advocated for training and certification programs for all public employees entrusted with spending taxpayer’s dollars.

 

Government procurement practices offer significant opportunities to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of government operations. State and Local Government Procurement is a critical issue that directly affects the tax paying public. It is time that State Legislatures make both State and Local Government Procurement Reform one of their top priorities.

 

Improving both state and local government procurement practices can achieve significant benefits for the taxpayers of our nation. The success of any procurement reforms, however, will be dependent on the existence of a professional, skilled and ethical procurement workforce.

 

Raising the professionalism of both state and local government buyers through training and certification will do more to improve the quality of products and services purchased, and will do more to ensure that the highest ethical standards are maintained, than anything that has been implemented in the past.

 

Over the past few years, legislative leaders and taxpayer watch organizations have voiced their concerns over the state of Public Procurement across our nation. Audits performed by State and Local Comptrollers have identified common occurrences of non-compliance to many of the requirements of State and Local Procurement Laws and Policies. These deficiencies include bid-splitting, abuse of change orders, overly restrictive bid specifications, improper use of State contracts, and failure to issue competitive bids when required.

 

Without support and funding for annual training and certification in public procurement; the deficiencies identified in audits will continue.

 

Training and Professional Certification of public procurement personnel is not a new concept. The education and continuing professional development of those individuals involved in public procurement has been a primary objective of the Institute for Public Procurement (NIGP) since its founding in 1944.

 

In 1964, this quest for excellence in public procurement was more clearly defined when NIGP developed and initiated its Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) program. The CPPO program of NIGP was, at the time of its initiation, the only professional certification offered by a national professional purchasing association in North America. The concept underlying the development of the CPPO program was to establish a standard by which qualifications of any public procurement official could be evaluated for a managerial or supervisory level position in public procurement.

 

To more effectively promote and insure professionalism in public sector procurement, NIGP and the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), jointly established the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council in 1978. The organization later changed its name to Universal Public Procurement Certification Council in 2010.

The UPPCC’s mission is to recognize professionalism in public procurement through identification of a common body of knowledge and the certification of individuals against established standards of competency.

Realizing the need for a certification program for non-managers, the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC), its Board of Examiners (BOE), and NIGP's Education and Professional Development Committee developed the Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) certification.

 

Why should all State and Local Government Officials support a training and certification program for state and local government procurement personnel?

 

State and local government spending now exceeds $1.78 billion dollars. The level of visibility and the high degree of accountability required in public procurement is another reason. A public procurement training and certification program demonstrates that the government is making a reasonable effort to ensure public procurement personnel are trained and qualified.

 

In Florida, one of the many states that has a statewide training program, the goal of the program is to “Develop and certify public procurement professionals who adhere to an unwavering code of ethical behavior, and who possess the knowledge, skills, and ability to effectively design, solicit, negotiate, award and mange government contracts in a manner worthy of the public’s trust. Shouldn’t all State and Local Governments implement a similar training and certification program?

 

Certification of public procurement personnel provides a level of professionalism that will enhance the reputation of each public agency that supports the certification process. Certification provides for life long learning and a progression of training. Evaluating who is best qualified is the best way to ensure those hired for public procurement positions, can do the job. A certification program is a reasonable way to determine qualifications. The consequences of non-performance relating to public procurement are simply too great to take chances. Achievable and measurable standards will help ensure we live up to the public trust.

 

Although not required by all state and local governments, professional public procurement certification is highly recognized, and is increasingly being used as a requirement for hiring and promotions in public procurement agencies. The trend in government procurement is for mandatory certification of procurement professionals. Certification in Public Procurement tells the taxpayers that the public employee who is responsible for spending their tax dollars has reached a specific level of education, experience, and knowledge.

 

Certification assures the agency that those who are in a public procurement role are educated on the best procurement practices and grounded in the legal and ethical requirements of public procurement. A properly trained and certified public buyer can add significant value to the procurement process. Certification indicates a personal commitment and willingness from the employee to strive for public procurement expertise in which the individual gains personal confidence, satisfaction, and pride from direct involvement with peer groups in the procurement process. Certification is the best way to ensure that a buyer has achieved a mastery of core competency elements in public procurement and can then provide a higher level of service to maximize value for the taxpayer’s dollar.

 

Currently, many States regulate professions and require licensing or annual continuing education requirements, or both, for a wide range of professions including Athletic Training, Certified Shorthand Reporting, Interior Design, Social Work and Public Accountancy. States have chosen to regulate or license these professions to “protect” the public. Isn’t it time that State and Local Governments became just as concerned about ensuring that public procurement employees, who are responsible for spending more than $1.8 billion dollars annually, are qualified, well trained, and certified?

 

While ample training opportunities in public procurement exist; most state agencies and local governments' fail to provide sufficient funding for, nor actively support, training of those employees entrusted with spending the taxpayer’s dollars.

 

As we continue to hear of public procurement scandals at state and local governments who have been entrusted with spending taxpayer’s dollars, shouldn’t public procurement professionals be required to receive training on an annual basis, and become certified in Public Procurement? Currently only a fraction of state and local government employees responsible for procurement are receiving any form of regular procurement training.

 

The important question is “Why aren’t all public procurement employees nationwide receiving this training?”

 



Promoting the Public Procurement Function

Posted on October 18, 2017 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Promoting the Procurement Function may be a new concept for some in the Public Procurement profession; however, all public procurement personnel have been and will continue to be involved in “promoting” the procurement function. Some may be aware of their promotional and marketing activities and some may not. Some may have already implemented strategic initiatives to promote procurement and the value procurement brings to their organization. Others are satisfied to remain in a “reactive” management mode. Like any business, how well you execute your promotion/marketing strategies will determine how successful the procurement function will be within your organization.


From my experience as a public procurement practitioner; many of those involved with the profession are not satisfied with the stature of procurement within their organization. Although many public procurement organizations have made significant gains in terms of recognition, this dissatisfaction of how the procurement function is viewed by upper management and elected officials has been present for quite some time, and as a result, the public procurement function remains at a low stature in many government organizations.


Why is this?


Promoting the Public Procurement function is a complex task, much more complex than most practitioners anticipate. With several target markets to reach, more than one customer base to satisfy, the promotion of the public procurement function will be challenging. For those who have a vision and are ready to lead, as well as take some risks; the rewards are abundant and the stature of public procurement can be raised to new levels.


What should Procurement Market and Promote? Sounds like a simple question; however, very few Procurement organizations successfully promote the procurement function on a regular basis in the following four categories.


• Value

• Relationships

• Products and Services

• Unique Perceived Benefits


Any discussion regarding promoting the public procurement function must include identifying procurement’s problems, building relationships, creating stakeholder value, gaining the support of upper management and elected officials and how to recover from negative publicity. Only after a discussion of these issues; can procurement professionals begin to develop a plan to market the public procurement function.


Developing Procurement’s Value Proposition is a key step in the promoting the public procurement profession.


Practicioners must gain a general understanding of Marketing Theory and how it relates to Procurement, including Market Segmentation, Target Market Selection, Positioning and Branding, Creating Stakeholder Value, and the integration of Quality Customer Service.


Public Procurement professionals must begin to use Social Media in promoting the Procurement Function and gain a basic understanding of the several types of social media, identify the pros and cons of using social media, integrating social medial into their overall promotion effort, and begin building their social media dream team.


Applying marketing and promotion strategies to public procurement are important steps in raising the profile of public procurement. Are you ready to take the next step? Consider taking our one-day seminar - "Promoting the Procurement Function" through the Institute of Public Procurement-NIGP. Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:


• Identify what procurement should be promoting and to whom

• Develop Procurement's "Value" message

• Understand the advantages and disadvantages of using social media

• Create a Marketing/Promotional Communications Plan

• Monitor and evaluate the success of your Marketing/Promotion efforts


Creating and implementing a Marketing/Promotional Communications Plan will put you on the path to raising the procurement functions stature in your organization.


Want more information? The Institute for Public Procurement-NIGP offers a one-day seminar on Promoting the Procurement Function. Visit www.nigp.org or visit www.procurepath.net

 

Price Verification - "Basic Function or Lost Art"

Posted on October 8, 2017 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Price Verification - "Basic Procurement Function or Lost Art"

When making a purchase using a State, Federal or Cooperative contract, or even a purchase off a public agency's own contract, that is based on a percent discount off a manufacturers list price; are public agencies performing the extensive due diligence necessary to ensure they are being charged the correct price?


On the surface this seems like a simple question. Why wouldn't the public procurement professional conduct the proper due diligence to ensure they are paying the appropriate contract price?


Based on feedback many of my buyers receive from State, Federal and Cooperative contract holders, which often state "You’re the only agency that asks for all this documentation regarding the appropriate price"; I must question (1) if the State, Federal and Cooperative contract holders just don't want to exert the effort in meeting the due diligence requirements of public agencies or (2) are many public agencies just not performing the required level of due diligence. As with most issues, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.


I find that many State, Federal and Cooperative contract holders fail to adequately train their sales force and distributors regarding the contract award. As a result, State, Federal and Cooperative contract holders often provide quotations referencing a State, Federal or Cooperative contract with inaccurate pricing or for items not covered by the contract.


Many State, Federal and Cooperative contracts are based on a percent discount off a specific manufacturer's price list, that was submitted with their bid or proposal. The awarding agency's contract normally limits how often that price list may be updated. Even when a contract holder submits a new price list for approval, it may take the awarding agency months to approve it. This is where the confusion enters for the manufacturer's salesforce and distributors. They are using the most current price list for regular customers, and an older price list for public sector agencies. Quite often, mistakes are made and prices are quoted to public agencies using the wrong price list, resulting in the public agency paying a higher price than provided in the contract.


The second issue I see quite often is that a manufacturer has issued a new price list that contains new products and services; however, their State, Federal or Cooperative contract price list has not been updated to include these additional items. This results in the manufacturer's salesforce and distributors providing quotations to public agencies that reference a contract; however, all the items included on the quotation are not actually covered by the contract.


It is the responsibility of the public procurement professional to conduct extensive due diligence to ensure the procurement adheres to the terms and conditions of the State, Federal or Cooperative contract and that they are being charged the appropriate price. And if the quotation provided by the manufacturer or distributor does not adhere to the contract, be prepared to issue their own solicitation to ensure compliance to their agency's policies and regulations.


NIGP's Public Procurement Practice for the Use of Cooperative Contracts provides a Due Diligence Check List for purchasing from other government contracts. Key best practices include:


  • Ensure that that use of the contract meets all competitive requirements,
  • Review the contract for conformance will all applicable laws and best practices,
  • Analyze the product/service specifications, price, terms and conditions and other factors


Taking the manufacturer's or distributor's word that an item or service is covered by the contract is not a best practice and does not fulfill the required due diligence by public procurement professionals.


Make "Price Verification" a standard best practice in your organization!





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