Georgia has procurement on its mind

20 April 2016

A fierce focus on value and training has helped the ‘Peach State’ save $61m a year on contracts.

“In Georgia, we rely heavily on ‘best value’ so that we maintain the opportunity to negotiate and reduce costs for our state agencies,” says Lisa Eason, Georgia’s deputy commissioner for procurement.

This philosophy has paid of for Georgia’s Department of Administrative Services (DOAS). Ranked number one in the US for its procurement function by Governing magazine’s Governing Institute, its central procurement team cut costs for the ‘Peach State’ by 11% last year.

Georgia’s DOAS beat 39 other state departments to the top spot for its achievements in analysis, technology and training programmes.

Its systematic and analytical approach to department spend guarantees good value for money. This includes a purchasing customer advisory panel that vets contract spend, strategies and new initiatives, and targeted compliance reviews to identify risks and trends.

The DOAS set up a team of number crunchers, known as ‘mathletes’, to analyse data and guarantee a better price for the state. The result? Savings of just under $61m (£41m) across 38 contracts totalling $580m (£403m).

According to the Governing Institute, US state departments have been slow to embrace technology to improve procurement. But Georgia is leading the way by implementing a public portal for all bids – a PeopleSoft platform – to provide more transparency to suppliers and the public.

More than 40,000 suppliers are registered to participate in bids. Pre-recorded training video clips on the DOAS website take companies through step-by-step instructions in using the state’s electronic procurement systems. They can also opt for training sessions along with one-on-one support. The DOAS also developed a fast-track request for proposal (RFP) process, resulting in the awarding of contracts of up to $250,000 (£174,000) in 64 days.

Georgia’s commitment to staff training also marked it out as a leader in procurement. This ranges from basic procurement courses to more advanced processes, including RFP, contract management and negotiations. Recorded webinars and online access to an official procurement manual offer staff further opportunities for professional development.

Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal praised the procurement function for boosting the state’s profile on a national scale. “I am proud of Georgia’s leadership in our procurement practice, which is a critical factor in the state’s competitiveness and economic development,” he said.

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