What do you picture when someone says, “Oh! Here is a resource for you!”? Traditionally, most people imagine a tangible, physical item. But resources can take many forms, and often the most helpful resource isn’t books or paper, but people.
With the ever-growing IT field, many daily tasks of the procurement world are now completed using computer software or AI. Simply designing the “best value algorithm” isn’t the future of modern public procurement professionals. To recognize the importance of relationship building, NASPO’s 2019 Annual Conference hosted a panel discussion featuring chief administrators. Panelist included Brom Stibitz of Michigan, Kara Veitch of Colorado and Scott Bollinger of South Dakota.
NASPO President Lisa Eason, of Georgia, moderated the discussion, keeping the focus on the collaborative efforts of chief administrators and procurement officials. The panelists made it clear that chief administrators value procurement professionals. “My job is to give the CPO a voice,” stated Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration, Kara Veitch.
Both NASCA and NASPO release annual “Top 10 Priorities” identified by their memberships. These lists revealed that state chief administrators and state procurement officials not only face comparable issues but are prioritizing those issues in similar fashions. For 2019, the #1 priority of both organizations was focused on customer service. Chief Deputy Director Brom Stibitz of Michigan nailed home the importance of the CPO asserting, “procurement can be a strong lever for policy changes.”
All panelists spoke of the importance of the cooperative efforts between chief administrators and procurement officials, while acknowledging that cultivating a relationship can be complicated. There can be professional and political norms at play that can affect a relationship and how it develops.
NASPO President Lisa Eason asked the panelists what advice they would you give to CPOs for building a relationship with their chief administrators and communicating the value that the procurement office provides to the state. Panelists indicated they understand that sometimes, procurement professionals are the ones that have to say, “no.” Guidelines and regulations can tie hands, but panelists called for CPOs to defend their stance while working with their chief administrators and presenting solutions. Another major takeaway from the panel to CPOs—don’t be afraid of trying new, innovative things.
Whether it’s networking with public procurement officials or building strategic partnerships with other institutions, NASPO builds bridges to people and resources. The panel at the 2019 NASPO Annual conference demonstrated the willingness of chief administrators to work with their respective central procurement offices.