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Survey of State Procurement Practices

Surveys that Matter

How many surveys have you completed this year? Chances are you have already participated in several reviews and customer satisfaction surveys. The real question is how many surveys we complete actually matter? In today’s big data world, businesses need to gather data and understand customer behavior in order to gain a strategic advantage or identify new business opportunities. Requests to participate in customer satisfaction surveys, guest surveys after returning from a domestic or international travel, or surveys to evaluate your recent dentist’s visit have become a part of life. The average consumer seems to be bombarded with a lot of “tell us how we did/tell us about your visit” surveys and requests for feedback. Researchers try to strike the right balance between gathering the right amount of information while being mindful of survey fatigue which can lead to low response rates. Rightfully so.
If you are interested in a survey that matters, a survey that offers a comprehensive nationwide perspective of state procurement practices, look no more! NASPO has the best vantage point to provide insight into how various state central procurement offices handle the procurement of goods and services across the country and infer valuable trends. NASPO’s Survey of State Procurement Practices is a comprehensive data collection, and the longest running survey for the association.

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Procurement Process Improvement

Building a Procurement Team for a Digital Future

Want your procurement staff to be ready for the next big thing? There is undeniable value in a staff that is savvy with current technology, but how do you prepare your staff to be ready to keep up with the digital trend that’s here to stay? In many cases, trends come and go, but sometimes they are the forces that drive innovation and success for businesses worldwide. Organizations of all sizes who embrace changing times are better able to develop strategies to manage change in a way that positions themselves for the future. Digitalization is achieved through the use of technology to strengthen existing processes and practices. It can also be looked at as the thread that is woven through multiple silos of information as means to integrate people, processes, and data throughout an organization. Outside of cost savings, there is value in digital efficiency, especially since procurement plays a vital role in shaping strategic models that support the execution of a multitude of contractual goods and services.

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Emerging Technology

The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part…

Living in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
In the previous installment of this two-part series I discussed the amazing transformation and evolution made possible by automation and technology advancements of the 20th century. Today’s technology transformations such as robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, and the Internet-of-Things will have a great impact on society, disrupting every industry and improving many aspects of our personal and work lives. They also create problems for governments around the world that must now figure out how to regulate this new environment and respond to socio-economic concerns such as displacement of workers by automation, or inequality.
Of all big tech companies using AI to enhance their products or services, Amazon is clearly leading the pack with home automation products like Alexa, its version of a personal assistant. Facebook has recently sunset “M,” which hoped to take current personal assistants to the next level where the trained AI machine would have had the same knowledge as the user and do more things than regurgitating various scenarios scripted by app developers. However, the race to lead in AI as a service is on.

Read more “The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part II”

Emerging Technology

The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part…

The Benefits of Automation
The Technological Revolution, including automation in manufacturing and the automotive industry is synonymous with great innovations and rapid developments taking place during the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century through the early 1900s. Advancements like the assembly line and automated machines, which replaced work that used to be performed manually, led to positive outcomes, including efficiency and mass production of manufactured goods at significantly higher rates.
It’s a known fact that in a manufacturing setting, robotics and automated machines improve productivity and reduce labor costs. And yes, they replace workers. So, it is not surprising that businesses will always embrace automation. To business, automated machines are like the perfect worker who works seven days a week, never takes breaks, never asks for a raise, and never gets sick. Sounds like a deal you simply cannot resist, doesn’t it? Ask the same question of a blue-collar worker displaced due to automation and expect a different answer.

Read more “The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part I”

Contract Management

NASPO’s Contract Administration Workshop

Training and professional development are essential to the state procurement office. Many procurement offices deliver internal training to their staff on a regular basis. The topics of these offerings can be everything from how to conduct an RFP evaluation to how to use the office P-card. Whether an office has a formalized training program resulting in a certification or less formal “hot topic” training, the intent is the same: to improve the procurement process.
In addition to providing internal training, many procurement offices are tasked with delivering training to the agency staff responsible for contract administration. These agency staff may not have a procurement or contract management background but are tasked with the administration of contracts related to their job duties. However, there is a great deal of responsibility delegated to the agency contract administrators, as they are interacting with the contracted supplier most often. Ineffective contract administration can affect the overall success of the contract.

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Contract Management

Through the Vendor’s Eyes: Procurement and Contract Management

NASPO recently held the REACH (Regional Education and Connection Hub) Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. 270 state members representing 47 states and the District of Columbia came together to participate in the first “super regional” conference in NASPO’s history, bringing together the Southern, Eastern, Midwestern, and Western Regions. The event was filled with educational and professional growth opportunities that expanded NASPO members’ support network into all four regions. In this series of blogs, NASPO staff will share key takeaways and highlights from REACH’s expansive programs agenda. 
“How many people have experienced frustration with a vendor?” Valerie Bollinger, State Purchasing Manager for the State of Idaho asked participants at a recent NASPO REACH conference. The room quickly filled with laughter as many state procurement professionals attending the breakout session titled Procurement and Contract Management Through the Vendor’s Eyes realized they can relate. Public procurement professionals and vendors alike are occasionally frustrated with each other and feel like it’s “them vs. us” when doing business together. The group exercise, led by Valerie, was an introspection and challenge to participants to put themselves in the vendor’s shoes and think through solutions that could inform better processes and relationships during the contract management phase, which is an important piece of the complex state procurement process.

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NASPO

What has NASPO done for you?

Through conferences, research, informative publications, and various member benefit programs, NASPO is dedicated to providing educational and information-sharing opportunities to the state government procurement community. Curious to learn more about what NASPO membership can do for you? Don’t take our word for it – check out this new video which features some of our members discussing the benefits of their NASPO memberships!
Ethics

Choosing the Best Path: Ethics and Accountability

Ethics and the professionalization of public procurement have been among NASPO’s Top 10 Priorities for elevating and advancing public procurement for several years. NASPO is excited to announce the release of a new research paper discussing best practices for applying ethics in public procurement.  NASPO’s Best Practices: Ethics and Accountability explores demonstrating accountability by choosing the best path; best practices in ethics programs; conflicts of interest and vendor relations; and adopting proactive transparency practices.  The paper also includes three case studies at the end of each section, which aim to delve more deeply into these interrelated topics and help illustrate the ethical dilemmas that state procurement officials may face.
The modern public procurement office is faced with ever-growing challenges in areas such as project management, performance, and employment. This paper helps to lay the groundwork for accountability through choosing the “best path,” performing due diligence in contract management, identifying conflicts of interest in vendor relations, and exploring the changing paradigm of transparency.  This NASPO paper was written as a collaborative effort of the Accountability, Transparency, and Conflict of Interest Work Group, led by Valerie Bollinger, Purchasing Manager, Division of Purchasing for the State of Idaho.
NASPO REACH

Negotiating for Value

NASPO recently held the REACH (Regional Education and Connection Hub) Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. 270 state members representing 47 states and the District of Columbia came together to participate in the first “super regional” conference in NASPO’s history, bringing together the Southern, Eastern, Midwestern, and Western Regions. The event was filled with educational and professional growth opportunities that expanded NASPO members’ support network into all four regions. In this series of blogs, NASPO staff will share key takeaways and highlights from REACH’s expansive programs agenda. 
One conference. One session. Many lessons to be learned. Getting the best value out of contracts was a main learning objective during one of the REACH General Sessions. Developing a negotiations strategy to aid in accomplishing that goal was another one. Continue reading to find out what our members learned during this session, and how to become a more successful negotiator!

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NASPO Internships

2018 Summer Internship Program – An Update

We are thrilled that the first true iteration of the NASPO national internship program is off to a great start! From three states and four interns in our pilot program last summer to eight states and fifteen interns this summer, the program has grown substantially. Massachusetts, Utah, and Idaho’s procurement offices graciously agreed to participate in the pilot program in Summer 2017. These offices helped to create NASPO’s very first internship programs in their states- a learning experience for NASPO and for the interns. All three pilot states decided to host an intern(s) again this summer, joined by the procurement offices of Connecticut, New York, Texas, Wisconsin, and Oregon. Many of the Summer 2018 interns have already begun their internships and will work for 10-12 weeks in the state’s procurement function.

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