This week we caught up with Cindy Lombardi, Chief Procurement Officer for the State of Colorado. Perfect timing too! NASPO’s 2019 Exchange Conference is being hosted in the beautiful capital city of Denver.
Cindy has served as Colorado’s Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) since March of 2015. As CPO, she launched the Procurement Code Modernization Initiative that has resulted in an improved procurement code and procurement rule changes for the state. Cindy has over 20 years of experience in purchasing and contracts for the federal government, the University of Colorado, and several state agencies including the Departments of Personnel & Administration, Public Health & Environment, Revenue, and Human Services. Cindy is a Director at Large on the NASPO Board of Directors and is currently serving as Conference and Events Champion. She has also served on the NASPO ValuePoint Management Board since 2015. Cindy is also currently the 2019 Chairperson of the NASPO Exchange committee and has been instrumental in the conception, planning and execution of the upcoming conference, April 9-11, 2019.
NASPO STAFF: Cindy, you have been heavily involved with NASPO since you joined us as a member in 2015. Why do you value your membership with NASPO?
CINDY LOMBARDI: NASPO is such a great association! At my first NASPO event, I felt like I was home. As a member of NASPO you benefit from networking, research and innovation, professional education through Procurement U, conferences, procurement tools, access to cooperative purchasing through NASPO ValuePoint, and more. Thank you NASPO!
NASPO STAFF: In an effort to improve Colorado’s procurement rules and statutes, your office recently launched the Procurement Code Modernization Initiative. How has this benefited your office and what kind of changes to the procurement process have you seen since this has been implemented?
CINDY LOMBARDI: An update to Colorado’s procurement code and rules was overdue. The modernization allowed us to update terminology, combine topics together within the code, make rulemaking permissive instead of mandatory, add new methods of source selection, include expectations for ethics and training, highlight the importance and need for market research, and more.
NASPO STAFF: If I were a fly on the wall in Cindy’s office, what would I hear and see every day? Walk me through a day in the life as the CPO for the state of Colorado.
CINDY LOMBARDI: Well, most days it feels like I have a revolving door to my office. I love my team and I try to do whatever I can to support them. One statement I have made many times during my tenure is that we need to provide more training to state procurement staff, vendors, and our program staff. So, developing a comprehensive procurement training program is now a priority for us. Also, since we have a decentralized model with delegations to agency procurement offices, we spend much of our time supporting procurement staff in the agencies.
NASPO STAFF: As CPO, your days are probably filled with multiple priorities. What has been your biggest challenge since stepping into the chief procurement officer role, and how has that affected how you manage an office that is faced with frequent procurement challenges?
CINDY LOMBARDI: In addition to the procurement modernization initiative, I would say the biggest challenge or goal is to ensure we are providing leadership, direction, and support for procurement in Colorado. It is so important to be available and to listen to the needs of agency procurement offices, vendors, etc.
NASPO STAFF: Name one accomplishment throughout your entire procurement career that you are most proud of.
CINDY LOMBARDI: I can think of several, such as successfully procuring a new tax system for Colorado or leading the very first solicitation to procure a marijuana inventory tracking system; however, it would have to be the opportunity to use my knowledge, experience and relationships to help modernize our state procurement code and rules.
NASPO STAFF: Any words of wisdom, things you’d like to share with our Procurement Pulse blog community and procurement professionals around the country?
CINDY LOMBARDI: Great job elevating the procurement profession! Public procurement is challenging, and I have witnessed dramatic changes during my career. It has gone from the perception of merely being clerical work to being seen as a strategic organizational partner. The skills needed to be successful in procurement today are a far cry from clerical work and involve critical thinking, problem solving, strong communication abilities, and knowledge of technology. I immediately subscribed to the blog to receive notifications of new posts, and we share highlights from Procurement Pulse in our own newsletter.
NASPO STAFF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
CINDY LOMBARDI: Living in Colorado, I was once an avid skier and I love being outside to enjoy our wonderful climate with so many sunny days. I also love to read and travel; however, most days I just love being home with my husband, Frank, and our daughter, Natalie.
NASPO STAFF: Easter candy or Halloween candy?
CINDY LOMBARDI: Neither, I think Christmas candy, cake and cookies are the best! I spent my grade school years living in Germany since my father served in the United States Air Force, and that experience left me with a love for German stollen (fruit bread or Christmas cake), all chocolate and gingerbread. Yum!
NASPO STAFF: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
CINDY LOMBARDI: Funny you should ask since I keep a wand, dice and a magical answer ball at my desk to help with the major decisions I need make as the CPO of Colorado. Seriously, I feel that my team IS my superpower. They are talented and hardworking and I’m so proud to be part of their team.