Common Sense–Beau Grant
You Want Answers?
Not long ago I received an e-mail from a valued friend and respected colleague, who said he enjoyed my “Common Sense” column and generally agreed with its content. However, he was frustrated by the fact that I asked a lot of questions, but never gave any answers. He wanted and needed answers. Don’t we all!
It’s true that I raise a lot of questions in my column, in hopes that public procurement professionals everywhere will start asking them and getting the answers from their entities; questions like:
- How much of the total acquisition dollars in your entity is being processed and spent through your office? How much is being spent by others in your entity, and for what?
- How many contracts processed outside your office are completed within budget and on time, compared to those that you process?
- Is procurement/contracting being done by a certified public procurement professional?
- What kind of contract management is in place?
- Who is responsible and qualified for contract management?
- Is procurement utilized by your entity as a proactive strategic management tool? How?
- What is your customer satisfaction rate and how is it measured?
For some reason we never ask the critical questions that need to be asked, answered, and documented. Why? Is it because we don’t know what questions to ask? Do we think we know all the answers? Are we afraid to ask the questions for fear of stepping on some-one’s toes (or turf)? Or are we afraid we won’t like the answers?
Imagine knowing that, say, only 35 percent of the acquisition/contract dollars spent in your organization is processed by your office. Wouldn’t that be good to know when the organization starts blaming your office for budget shortfalls; especially when 65 percent of the spending is being done outside your responsibility and expertise? Poor contract management is the number one cause of overspending, usually occurring in the big ticket contracts. What if that were documented in terms of the percentage of contract cost overruns and extensions beyond the contract’s time limits? Overruns and extensions, I might add, which often result from illegal cardinal changes involving out-of-scope work and cost increases approved by the “empowered clueless” who have absolutely no professional procurement expertise.
Even more importantly, wouldn’t it be nice to document the collective answers from other entities and publish the results, so you could compare your entity with those results? That’s called benchmarking.
Bottom Line: If you want answers, YOU have to ask the questions, then document and benchmark the results. Let’s do it together! Send me your answers, and I’ll compile and report the results. All I need is your entity type and population, followed by your answers to each of the above questions.
Editor’s Note: Beau Grant, CPPO, is a master instructor for the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) and president of Beau-Geste Enterprises. Readers can reach Grant by e-mail: at [email protected].
These are just a few of the questions that I have addressed in my column. Why? The answers to these questions will tell you what is re-ally going on in your entity with regard to who is spending public money and how wisely and well it is being spent. The answers will provide information that every procurement professional needs to know to effectively add value to the organization.