We all know that one of the most influential individual purchaser of goods is the federal government. Combine the federal government’s purchasing with that of the states, and you get not only a lot of purchasing power. But sheer volume of good purchased only partly represents the effects of government purchasing, because purchasing decisions are also product preference declarations.
Because purchasing is such an influential, and yet often opaque process, the National Academy of Public Administration, the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council and the General Services Administration have joined together to create Better Buy. Better Buy wants to know how to make the procurement process better, and is placing particular interest on the pre-contract-award stage. Overall, Better Buy wants to know how to make acquisitions more open, transparent and collaborative.
While you may have heard of Better Buy, we wanted to share with you one of their first steps to improve the procurement process: the Better Buy wiki. Essentially, the wiki is an attempt to crowd-source best practices and general information about the federal procurement process. It’s a real attempt to use social media and Web 2.0 technology in a government setting. There is certainly enough uncollected or undocumented purchasing expertise among federal employees, so it makes a lot of sense to create this wiki.
But in addition to liking the fresh approach to collecting expertise, we’re also interested in how the wiki will help to establish common terms for items, for project types and, of course, for what counts as “green” or “sustainable.” As we all know, what gets measured gets improved. So how we define green or sustainable products, services and practices will have a direct effect on how sustainable the federal government truly becomes.
Image via Better Buy
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