What outcomes do we want from public procurement?

Reforming procurement has been an on-going topic for years and even decades. Through some of these ‘reform’ efforts, we typically end up with some legislation or initiatives led out of the White House. In spite of some successes, we seem to end up having an endless debate about reform.

Part of the issue is that we never seem to clearly articulate what it is that we want out of the procurement system. Said differently, what outcomes are we seeking? How do we measure success? The fact is, there are many competing and conflicting needs depending on whom you ask. They range from optimal cost and pricing (almost everyone), to efficiency and speed (customers of procurement), full transparency (oversight and public interest groups), to social responsibility such as increased access for small businesses. Without some level of consensus on our ultimate goals and outcomes, we end up with an endless cycle of reform that seems to be addressing any or all of these goals through some initiative or another.

So what can we change? Starting today, I am starting a dialogue on what the goals of procurement should be, with the ultimate aim of coalescing around a set of goals that can used to inform future policies and improvement initiatives. There is NO wrong answer and all opinions matter.

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