Are you a hero?
As I put together this edition of Go Pro, I keep coming back to the Chinese proverb that “heroes are made over turbulent times,” which is quoted in Fred Marks’ column (“Tough economic times call for some tough questions,” P. 38) and really permeates several of our feature stories in this issue.
Consequently, I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes, and about the characteristics of heroes. According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus on my desk (which was printed shortly after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press), “any person, esp. a man, admired for courage, nobility, etc.” is a hero. In addition to being incredibly sexist, that definition doesn’t paint a complete picture of a true hero, in my opinion.
Here’s my definition: “A hero is someone who stands for good; who possesses the skills and tools to fight for good; who is willing to put those skills and tools into action in the name of good; and whose actions are successful in spreading good in people, policies and cultures.”
By my somewhat egg-headed definition, do public-sector procurement professionals qualify as “heroes”? Let’s explore that definition further and see if purchasers meet my criteria:
“A hero is someone who stands for good” — Public purchasers stand for achieving best value for their customer agencies and taxpayers. They stand for ethical and sustainable procurement — for leveling the playing field for minority- and woman-owned businesses, and for environmental stewardship. They stand for ensuring a steady flow of competitively bid goods to government agencies so those agencies can provide vital services — from firefighting to snow removal to trash pickup — to the citizens of their communities. Hero?
“A hero is someone who possesses the skills and tools to fight for good” — Many public-sector procurement professionals learn necessary skills in college and then build on those skills throughout their careers, earning certification through the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council or other entities, taking part in professional development workshops and seminars, and joining professional associations such as NIGP. Judging by the list of UPPCC certificants (P. 28) and new NIGP members (P. 30-31), I’d say procurement professionals possess the skills and tools to fight for good. Hero?
“A hero is someone who is willing to put those skills and tools into action in the name of good” — Turbulent times produce heroes, and we are facing turbulent times. Our economy is in shambles, tax revenues are drying up and states are facing massive budget deficits — and procurement professionals are responding. Just read David Yarkin’s cover story, “Procurement takes center stage” (P. 24) for some powerful examples of how purchasers are “ensuring operational continuity in the face of severe budget cuts” and using the economic crisis “to make systemic changes in government contracting.” Hero?
“A hero is someone whose actions are successful in spreading good in people, policies and cultures” — In Michael Keating’s story on the Rockland County, N.Y., Purchasing Division (“Rockland County’s procurement profit center,” P. 18), we learn how Paul Brennan and his team have turned the division into a revenue-generating operation, to the tune of $78,117 in average net profit per employee. If you’re not convinced, consider that the purchasing staff’s use of the RFP process helped the county realize $400,000 in additional revenue through the sale of a certified home health agency license. Hero?
No doubt about it: Public-sector procurement professionals are heroes, and these tough times certainly call for a few of them. So keep up the good fight, and I’ll be sure not to step on your cape.
Josh Cable is the editor of Go Pro as well as its sister publication, Government Product News.