Credentialed Purchasers Drive Professional Changes
No question about it—purchasing professionalism is active in all states. Recent statistics from the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council (UPPCC) for the United States show the following certification totals:
- 3,394 Certified Public Purchasing Buyers (CPPBs)
- 727 Certified Public Purchasing Officers (CPPOs)
- 246 combined CPPBs and CPPOs
States with the most certified personnel include Florida, Texas, and New York.
We compared state certification totals with a couple of measures of government purchasing and spending activity to see whether states with a high level of purchasing/spending activity also have a large number of certified personnel. The purchasing/ spending activity measures we used included:
—Annual federal government procurement contract awards—value of awards in dollars, and
—Annual state and local government direct general expenditures.
State Rankings 2003, from Morgan Quitno Press (Lawrence, KS) was the source of the federal government procurement contract and state/local spending data.
Purchasing Responsibilities Translate Into Good Numbers of Credentialed Pros
In a few instances, there is a connection between purchasing/spending activity and certifications. States that lead the way in government purchasing/spending actions also have a high number of certified personnel. Florida, Texas, and New York all are in the top 10 states in purchasing activity and also are among the top 10 states for number of certified personnel.
Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia also have a high number of certified personnel and rank in the top 10 states for federal contract actions. These states, though, are not in the top 10 states for state and local government direct general expenditures.
California is the Golden State in more ways than one. California leads in all spending categories: both federal and state and local purchasing/spending activity. California, though, is not among the top 10 states in number of CPPOs and CPPBs. California, however, does have a large number of public purchasers who hold the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) designation through the Institute of Supply Management (ISM, Tempe, AZ). There are 2,067 C.P.M.-holders in the State of California, reports the ISM.
The California Association of Public Purchasing Officers (CAPPO, Tracy, CA) reports that 234 of its 1,064 members are C.P.M.-certified. CAPPO is a professional organization for public purchasing officials and was founded in 1915.
Enterprising National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) chapters in some states are propelling certifications to higher levels, says Don Buffum, Chair of the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council. “You’ll notice Virginia has probably one of the highest number of certified professionals, and they’ve got a very strong group of people pushing government organizations,”says Buffum. “They’ve got a strong presence in the NIGP, and they’ve pushed the training and education programs, and because of that, they’ve got a large number of certified public purchasing professionals.”
Another highly active NIGP chapter can be found in Florida. The State of Florida leads in number of certified personnel among the states with 495 CPPB or CPPO holders, plus 37 public purchasers who hold dual CPPB or CPPO credentials. “That’s probably an indicator that you’ve got a highly active NIGP organization,” concludes Buffum.
Several organizations are leading efforts to encourage more certifications. “The UPPCC serves as the driving force for certification of public purchasing professionals,” says Buffum. “NIGP and the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), as the co-founders of the UPPCC, strongly support and advocate certification of public procurement officials.”
As the “Official Public Sector Purchasing Affiliate” of the ISM, the National Purchasing Institute (NPI) encourages education, networking with public sector procurement and supply management professionals, and attaining certification.
According to Buffum, there are main drivers of certifications among public purchasers. When local, state, and federal leaders make the decision to hire only certified procurement professionals, practitioners seek certification in order to be considered for the top purchasing jobs.
“The second scenario, ‘practitioner-driven certification,’ occurs when the purchasing profession (practitioners) agrees that we must be better stewards of the public dollar,” says Buffum. “The individuals drive toward certification in an attempt to improve government and to improve themselves.
“I believe the majority of the certifications now in existence probably come from the second scenario,” he says. “I believe that we need to move toward the first scenario, and, in fact, are moving toward the first.”
Buffum adds, “We have a long way to go before we truly have a critical mass of government leaders who see their procurement operation as the first line of defense for public trust and integrity. My hope is that we can get the word out to more upper level government leaders, showing them the value of good public procurement, so purchasing is moved from a clerical position up to a strategic management position in the organizations, and, as we do that, we’ll get more people understanding the value of the profession.”
Buffum sees some movement in that direction in his own state, Mississippi, where the state legislature recently approved a bill that recognizes a certified purchasing office (and the certified professionals in it), and gives that office more flexibility in its purchasing processes.
Buffum adds: “My hope is that over time we’ll see more certified personnel be given increased flexibility and responsibility.” That will happen, according to Buffum, when government leaders see the certified public purchaser and conclude: “Well, this person is trained, and has the knowledge and abilities, and that should be recognized with greater responsibility.”
Editor’s Note: Michael Keating is research manager for Government Product News and Government PROcurement magazines, as well as research editor for Expansion Management magazine. Keating has written articles on the government market for about 100 publications, including USA Today, Sanitary Maintenance, INDUSTRYWEEK, Sound & Communications, and Pest Control Technology magazines.
Procurement Certification Opens Doors to Professional Advancement
By Catherine M. Radwan, Assistant Editor
Purchasing departments eventually reach the point where staff need to enhance their capabilities through professional development. The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), in conjunction with the National Association of State Purchasing Officials (NASPO), has established a professional certification program in public procurement through the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council (UPPCC). This entity offers two levels of certification: the Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) and the Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO).
The CPPO program establishes a standard by which qualifications of any public procurement official could be evaluated for a managerial-or supervisory-level position. The CPPB program addresses certification for individuals who have demonstrated prescribed professional competency as a buyer in public and governmental purchasing but are not required to meet the additional managerial function of the CPPO.
Professional UPPCC certification enables public procurement personnel in federal, state, and local governments to enhance their competencies through a directed course of self-study and/or by attending specific courses, and taking a rigorous exam. By achieving certification these buyers demonstrate their mastery of the complex elements of governmental purchasing and their ability to obtain maximum value for the taxpayers’ dollars.
In addition, certification can directly impact a buyer’s career path by demonstrating a proficiency in public procurement that could be a significant factor in assessing promotions and obtaining a higher salary level.
The NIGP, in its research titled “2002 NIGP Certification and Education Survey,” found that 416 of 559 agencies, or 74 percent of respondents, either require or prefer some sort of professional certification when determining an applicant’s eligibility for a position, a clear indication that the applicant possessing professional certification is viewed as more valuable in his or her ability to provide the services required.
John Kennedy, CPPO, Assistant Director, Corporate Materials Management, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, initiated a request for implementation of the CPPO/CPPB certification programs in his university purchasing department. In a presentation to attendees at the 2003 NIGP Annual Forum in Nashville, TN, last August, titled “Certified Professionals Equals Increased Pay: A Case Study,” Kennedy outlined his quest to establish purchasing certification as a benchmark accompanied by a restructured salary schedule that would recognize and reward buyers who became certified. Offering such incentives for continuous improvement, he says, keeps a staff motivated. He believes that staff members who do obtain professional certification should be recognized with an increase in salary or, at the least, with a bonus payment that would cover the costs incurred by the staff member to obtain the certification plus an additional incentive.
Kennedy, in his original proposal to the university’s human resource department in October 2002, suggested that whichever method of remuneration was adopted would be a sound investment because it would enhance customer service at minimal expense. He reasoned that a bettertrained staff would be able to spend more time on what (the product) was being purchased and less time on how (the process). University customers would benefit with productoriented service from buyers with expertise in specific commodity areas.
Kennedy’s proposal also included restructuring the job descriptions in the university’s purchasing services department to incorporate additional accountability and authority into the new certified purchasing positions and identify the specific responsibilities exercised at each level. He added that certification should require continuing education to ensure that the level of expertise as demonstrated by the certification be maintained. In addition, the CPPO and CPPB certification should be incorporated as a requirement for new hires or replacements within a specified time frame; in the university’s case, within 24 months. Such actions would be in line with standard practice in the industry, as many government entities formally recognize the CPPB and CPPO designations as meaningful standards for employment and advancement of public procurement personnel.
Seventeen months after Kennedy first proposed it to the university’s director of human resources, the Department of Purchasing Services’ Professional Development Incentive Program has been formally approved. Kennedy presented the implementation plan to his staff on April 1, 2004. That same day, the largest of the four units in Purchasing indicated an interest in participating—over 25 percent of the department staff. “Within 24 hours of announcing our program,” Kennedy reports, “we have 50 percent of the staff that has expressed an interest.”
Kennedy’s current full-time employees with buying titles will be grandfathered under the new guides as a good faith gesture, but also encouraged to obtain certification in order to qualify for step salary increases. His goal is eventually to certify his entire department staff.
Purchasing professionals interested in applying for the UPPCC’s CPPB and CPPO certification programs must fulfill three requirements: submit documentation of work experience in purchasing, including some years in public purchasing; show educational contact hours in procurement (formal curriculum, professional development courses, or seminars/conferences as documented through certificates of training, proofs of attendance, and official transcripts); and verify formal education by college or university transcript. Some college work is preferred for the CPPB designation and a college degree is required for CPPO candidates who do not hold a CPPB designation. Requirements for work experience and coursework may depend upon the amount of formal college education at the time of application.
Candidates may obtain applications for certification from the UPPCC Certification Office located within NIGP’s national offices. NIGP and NASPO national members and NIGP chapter members qualify for discounted application and testing fees of $200 for the CPPB and $275 for the CPPO. Non-member fees are $400 and $600 respectively.
Once the candidate is accepted into the certification program, he or she should participate in the core curriculum offered by NIGP through its chapter network or through the Home Study program. Textbooks are available through the NIGP Bookshelf and online. As the final step in preparing for the exam, both CPPO and CPPB candidates are encouraged to participate in a certification review sponsored by an NIGP chapter or at an NIGP seminar.
Exams are administered by appointment through a governmental human resource department or through a college or university by proctors approved by the certification program administrator. Candidates may opt for for group examinations through the NIGP local chapter. Results are mailed to candidates within 21 days of the exam date and include analysis of the test score and the individual’s percentage score in each of the written exam subject areas. Recertification for both CPPB and CPPO designees is required every five years from the effective date on the certificate to insure that the recipient remains active in his or her profession through association membership, contributions to the profession, and continuous education and training.
The Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council (UPPCC) program is accredited by the International Federation of Purchasing and Materials Management (IFPMM), a global educational organization comprised of more than 150,000 purchasing and materials management professionals from over 40 national member associations located across six continents.
The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to helping government entities manage taxpayers’ dollars wisely. For more information about CPPB and CPPO certification, call 800-FOR-NIGP (800-367-6447) or visit the Web site at www.nigp.org.