What is the difference or is there a difference between acquisition, procurement, and purchasing?

Home Forums Acquisitions What is the difference or is there a difference between acquisition, procurement, and purchasing?

This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew Krzmarzick 7 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #104165

    What is the difference or is there a difference between acquisition, procurement, and purchasing? Or are they all synonyms for the same activities/job functions?

  • #104181

    Don’t forget “contracting”, too! 🙂

    I’ve proposed previously that we crowd-source a quick slide deck on the difference generally…and the differences in groups on GovLoop specifically as an orientation for members….

  • #104179

    Marco Morales

    The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) defines acquisition as the conceptualization, initiation, design, development, test, contracting, production, deployment, Logistics Support, modification, and disposal of weapons and other systems, supplies, or services (including construction) to satisfy DoD needs, intended for use in or in support of military missions. Acquisition is a much wider concept than procurement, covering the whole life cycle of acquired systems. Multiple acquisition models also exist. Contract management or administration (per Andrew’s comment – above – to include it…) is management of contracts made with customers, vendors, partners, or employees. Contract management includes negotiating the terms and conditions in contracts and ensuring compliance with terms and conditions, plus documenting and agreeing on any changes from its implementation or execution. It can be summarized as the process of systematically and efficiently managing contract creation, execution, and analysis to maximize financial and operational performance and minimize risk(s).

  • #104177

    I like the idea, Andy. I would love to see just such a presentation. Thanks also for featuring my question.

  • #104175

    Thanks for the insights, Marco. This definitely provides a good framework for understanding.

  • #104173

    A very helpful explanation, Harlan. Thanks for contributing to the topic. I especially like the ship and boat imagery.

  • #104171

    In addition to the information provided by other there are some perceptual and organizational issues in play. Personnel Departments changed to Human Resource department pretty much across the board years ago. There were reasons to do that which included but were not limited to image, scope of services provided, etc. Many “purchasing” departments in state and local government reinvented themselves as “procurement” , Procurement & Contracts; Procurement & Contracting, etc for similar reasons. Purchasing is widely considered as a less desirable, less progressive and less descriptive to use as a department name. Procurement” is probably the most commonly utilized term at this point in time. Contracts and Contracting are also commonly incorporated into department names

    Most departments labeling themselves as “Acquisition” are rooted in the federal sector. Not many state or local agencies have adopted the term at this stage. If new members are signing on to GovLoop for the first time and they are state or local procurement professionals they are not likely to identify with “Acquisition” when first searching for groups to join.

    I personally don’t disagree with any of the points previously made. I just think new members should be able to clearly and easily identify the groups of interest to them by searching for the terms commonly used in their professions. That may also arguably include incorporating the terms “tendering” and “supply chain” in any resultant directory.


  • #104169

    Good morning, Hal. Thanks for adding these points about the change in the use of these terms over time and the difference between labels at the federal vs. state or local levels. Very insightful!

  • #104167

    Marie E. Hardy

    Thanks for the clarifications. I work in the Acquisitions department at the Chicago Public Library. We also have a Contracts department within the library as well as a city Procurement department. It gave me more clarity about the different functions each unit within my organization performs.

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