WASHINGTON, D.C. — The way governments manage the process of purchasing goods and services is often slow and cumbersome.
With a combined 2016 budget of $1.275 trillion, state spending is big business, but government procurement is often cited as the perfect example of the worst kind of bureaucracy — proof of an organizational culture reluctant to modernize and innovate. According to the state and local government-focused Governing magazine, however, things are changing.
In support of its mission to advance better government, Governing Institute, the magazine’s research division, is putting a spotlight on the importance of procurement services with its 2016 State Procurement Study and Rankings. The results, published in Governing’s March issue and online at governing.com/procurementreport, highlight procurement innovation hot spots.
Six states in particular stand out as top performers, with Georgia in the top slot followed by Virginia, Minnesota, Utah and, tied for fifth place, Massachusetts and Ohio.
The release of the state procurement rankings is intended to raise awareness of the critical role procurement plays in state government and to recognize and reward state excellence in procurement practices. The Institute will also provide individual feedback to states to help them identify weaknesses and pursue a culture of innovation.
Led by Governing Institute Director Julia Burrows and Senior Fellow Dugan Petty, the rankings team began by identifying the attributes and criteria for outstanding procurement practices. They then surveyed the states and judged the results. All 50 state chiefs of procurement were invited to participate in an extensive online survey. Submissions were evaluated and scored across 10 categories.
In the top-ranked state of Georgia, for example, exceptionally strong procedures in staff training and contract administration led to a particularly smooth and proactive procurement process.
According to Sid Johnson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, “Georgia’s strong performance demonstrates Governor Deal’s continued commitment to ethical, competitive and efficient procurement practices.”
“Consistent with our mission to advance better government at the state and local levels, this procurement survey shines a spotlight on the essential but often behind-the-scenes functions of purchasing offices,” said Burrows. “There are tremendous opportunities to share best practices for improved efficiency, modernization, cost savings, inclusionary practices and good management.”
According to Petty, a former state chief of procurement and a past president of the National Association of State Procurement Officers, “Antiquated procurement practices are one of the biggest barriers to improving the way governments do business. The push is on to modernize, to be transparent and achieve greater efficiency and cost savings. These states in particular have made huge strides.”