Over 550 procurement professionals from states, counties, cities, school districts and special districts nationwide responded to Onvia’s recent survey of government procurement professionals.

One of the highlighted findings that the survey results revealed was that procurement professionals expect to publish fewer formal bids & RFPs in the coming year due to multiple constraints. Here’s more:

The Solution to Dealing with Procurement Efficiency Pressures? Shorten the Process

When asked about formal bid & RFP volumes over the last 12 months, 39% of responding procurement staff indicated an increase over the previous year. However, when asked about what they expected to publish over the coming year, the percentage of procurement staff expecting an increase in formal solicitations was lower at 34%.

Recent & Expected Changes in Bid Volumes - Onvia

So, what does this all add up to? The sky falling because of fewer formal bids and RFPs being published? Probably not.

The reality is that increasingly, agency leadership, purchase authorizing environments and public citizens expect fast action – which can often come into conflict with a lengthy formal procurement process. So, more and more the answer to dealing with efficiency pressures is to shorten the process.

One way more agencies are doing this is by issuing direct buy contracts with more frequency and raising direct buy purchasing thresholds.

For example, I previously served as Senior Advisor to the Washington State CIO where I helped author the Innovation Exemption. This exemption raised the direct buy purchasing threshold for technology purchases that promote modernization of technology and digital service delivery within the state.

Other examples we’re seeing government agencies use to best mitigate these constraints and get more efficient include:

  • Procurement departments using lean management methods, or ‘lean procurement’, to streamline their buying processes
  • Increased use of cooperative contracts
  • In states where regulations allow for this, many of our agency partners report getting a better deal piggybacking off a contract from a neighboring city, county or their state
  • Issuing more multi-year renewable contracts

Tactics like these are helping agencies buy more efficiently. Vendors should note these trends are not harmful to the amount of government projects available to win. Instead they just mean more diversification in terms of where government agencies are making their purchases.

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