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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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Procurement Professionalization

Should I Get Certified?

Planning to take the CPPB or CPPO exams this fall? Wonder if the time and effort are worth it? NASPO is here to help!
If you are preparing to take the CPPB or CPPO exams check out the online prep courses available through NASPO. These courses are designed as a facilitated review of the UPPCC Body of Knowledge and can be accessed through the Procurement U Learning Management System (LMS).

The registration deadline for the fall courses is July 23.

Most professionals regularly ask themselves questions like, “How do I grow in my career?” or “How do I increase my credibility?” One of the most effective paths to achieving these goals is to obtain certification in your field. This is certainly the case in public procurement, where for decades certification has yielded benefits to the employee, their organization, and the profession as a whole.
For the employee achieving certification, benefits can include:

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Procurement Process Improvement

Continuous Improvement Webinar – Find the Gap!

Recently, on a NASPO webinar aimed at helping state procurement officials determine what continuous improvement tools and methods might be able to do for them, presenters Jason Soza (CPO, Alaska) and Richard Pennington (NASPO Life Members and NASPO ValuePoint General Counsel) tried to solve a huge problem; the chickens keep getting run over by cars because they’re trying to cross the road…
Jason: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Richard: “To get to the other side.”
Jason: “Why did the chicken need to get to the other side?”
Richard: “To stretch its legs.”

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NASPO Exchange

The Problem Solvers

The basis of any good business partnership is the ability to understand problems and develop a joint strategy to find a solution. In other words, communication and teamwork are essential. These were the central themes throughout NASPO’s 2018 Exchange conference this year in the Big Apple, New York, New York! It was here that purchasers and suppliers assembled to learn, discuss, and contemplate their relationships. Networking flourished while old friends reunited and new professional bonds were forged. The conference served as a platform in which buyers and suppliers took stock of innovative projects they had worked on together as well as learn about the vast resources NASPO has to offer. Conference-goers had the opportunity to attend large general sessions that featured keynote speakers and interactive, state government panels.
During a general session cleverly titled “Problem Solvers,” a panel of NASPO state members and suppliers sat on stage together to identify characteristics of effective supplier relationship management programs and discuss the impact of positive, open communication on the ability to reach successful procurement outcomes. Audience members were able to text their questions to the facilitator, who then asked the speakers to discuss them on stage. It was an effective way to outline strategies that could alleviate conflict in the state-supplier relationship, as well as keep all parties focused on solving the issues at hand. Although each session began with a script, it quickly morphed into a flowing, organic conversation between purchaser and supplier.
Read more “The Problem Solvers”