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Bob Perkins, Procurement Manager in Ada County, Idaho, is glad that procurement professionals can celebrate and recognize the profession in March – National Procurement Month. There are plenty of ways that Procurement Month is recognized, Perkins says. “Ada County and other cities in and around the county recognize March is Procurement Month with proclamations from the governing boards as well as various celebratory events hosted by the Idaho Public Purchasing Association.”

Bob Perkins

Procurement Manager

Ada County, Idaho

Procurement, Perkins explains, may lack glamour. “It doesn’t have the cool technology toys that IT has, and we aren’t the movers and shakers in the political circles.” Furthermore, the procurement department lacks the drama that sometimes is found in the HR department, says Perkins.

Nevertheless, procurement teams do provide a steadying influence in the public sector, Perkins says. “We are simply the Steady Eddies of the workplace. That might seem somewhat mundane, but it is anything but! We are one of the few organizations within government that gets to work with all levels of clientele and needs. From simple office supplies purchases to complex IT systems, to awe-inspiring public works projects, we are there every step of the way providing professional advice and guidance. We do make a difference in government!”

Procurement Month is the perfect occasion for procurement staffers to share their passion for an amazing profession, says Denise K. Finn, purchasing manager for the Lee County, Florida, Port Authority. Finn says it’s a good time to celebrate accomplishments and convey experiences with others. Finn gives examples of ways the month can be observed: “Have an open house or go visiting; do outreach to internal clients, vendor partners and constituents to help them better understand the importance of what we do, why we do it and how we make a difference. Take a moment (or a month) to pat each other on the back and don’t forget to thank your team because all of you are freaking fabulous!”

Procurement Month is a good time for professionals to show how critical the public procurement function is to government at all levels, says Marcheta E. Gillespie, Director of Procurement in Tucson, Arizona.

During National Procurement Month [March], we have an opportunity to spread the great news about public procurement creating value for the communities we serve.

Marcheta Gillespie, Director of Procurement, Tucson, Arizona

She lists some of the benefits that procurement professionals bring to their communities:

  • We save our agencies and our communities money
  • We are bringing creative solutions to the challenges that face our communities
  • We are providing excellent customer service to all our stakeholders
  • We are striving every day to uphold the values and principles of our profession (accountability, ethics, impartiality, professionalism, service and transparency)

Marcheta Gillespie

Director of Procurement

Tuscon, Arizona

Marcheta Gillespie

Gillespie says each day brings opportunities for public procurement practitioners to develop, promote and support the profession. “We need to encourage and assist all our colleagues to obtain professional certification, to continue professional growth and development, to broaden our professional network and to continuously find ways to give back to our profession.”

During Procurement Month and throughout the year, professionals should always be ready and able to articulate their value to society, says Stacy Gregg, Procurement Manager II for the State Fiscal Accountability Authority at the South Carolina Department of Procurement Services. “We should also have at least one great story of a procurement we processed that made a difference to our citizens,” Gregg says.

Stacy Gregg

Procurement Manager II

State Fiscal Accountability Authority South Carolina

She explains that procurement is a special profession because “[we] have a positive effect on the lives of the citizens we serve every single day.”

Gregg says that the profession has an impact on day-to-day activities everywhere.

Whether it be the traffic lights and road construction projects we pass as we travel, the furniture and technology in our children’s’ classrooms, the vision-testing equipment and cameras we see at our local motor vehicle departments, and even the city ball parks we enjoy on Sunday afternoons… as NIGP says, ‘Procurement is Everywhere.

Stacy Gregg, Procurement Manager, State Fiscal Accountability Authority at the South Carolina Department of Procurement Services

To celebrate Procurement Month, the New York State Association of Municipal Purchasing Officials (SAMPO) is sponsoring a free training session on March 24, 2017 in Latham, N.Y.

The session will show attendees how to do business with federal, state and local governments. The event is free and geared towards vendors. Vendors do NOT need to be a SAMPO member to attend.

Procurement Professionals are Seeing Real Value from the Onvia Exchange

Another free resource procurement professionals have at their fingertips is Onvia Exchange. Launched in June 2016, it brings government access to a powerful research database featuring 1.9 million solicitation documents from over 68,000 governments over the past 3 years. The database is easily searchable using Onvia’s proprietary ontology. In exchange, Onvia asks governments to post award and bid results data on a publically accessible website or to contribute data directly, so that other agencies and private sector suppliers can also view the information.

To date, over 900 government agencies have joined, with almost 1,500 members. Jim Tillman, Purchasing Manager in Broward County, Florida, offers his views on the product:

Onvia Exchange has been a very helpful tool both for our purchasing agents and client departments. It has helped us in researching bids, developing specifications and finding additional supply sources. This has allowed us to reduce our lead time in developing solicitations while increasing our competition base.

Jim Tillman, Purchasing Manager, Broward County, Florida

Onvia is working on the next wave of services to bring more data to procurement departments. The firm has released a beta version of “Your Solicitations” – an accounting of a government agency’s solicitation record, searchable by contact person or solicitation status.

Long-term, Onvia aspires to be the place where government buyers begin their journey - to research solicitations, get pricing and vendor intelligence, and get prepared with as much knowledge as possible before they sit down at the negotiating table.

Watch the video below to see the Onvia Exchange in action. Government agencies can register for free here: