Commentary: Closing thoughts before I go
Frank Pantangeli (Frankie Five Angeles to those of you who don’t live in Brooklyn) once told Michael Corleone to let him deal with an area of their family business because it was “a street thing.” He meant that Frank knew his area of expertise and markets, and he knew how to get things done efficiently. I’m not saying that you should use the same methods as Frankie, but just take a lesson from his attitude.
The next time someone accuses you of paying $500 for a toilet seat, or makes a smart remark about a low bidder, and before your face freezes into a smile and your left eyebrow begins to twitch, explain how intense the bid process is and how we vet prospective bidders. It’s a question of education. Sadly, the news media almost never reports how well we do, mostly because it’s not attention-getting.
I have tried to use the words “professionalism” and “education” in each of my articles. I have always felt the words set a leader apart from the groundlings. There are many skills we need to master in order to be effective for our organizations, but these two are at the top of the list. They are difficult to master, and there is a long learning curve.
I would put technology as an important third skill to master. We have to know not only how to purchase or rent it, but we have to keep up with the latest developments to make it work more effectively. I see people with their smart phones and various pads and tablets working while they talk. I’m still trying to figure out how to speed-dial my friends on my 10-year-old phone. I would appreciate if someone could tell me how to take a picture with it and explain what a pixel has to do with me.
All of this is my long-winded way of saying that I am going to take several steps back from writing this column. I started writing the column in April 2006, and I think at this juncture, I have said all that I want to say. The guys at Government Procurement magazine, my editor and publisher, have been more generous in their attitude towards me than I could have reasonably expected when I first started. They have allowed me to write as if I were teaching a master’s class in our profession, and my gratitude toward them is unending.
It’s time for others to take up the keyboard (“take up the pen” is a much more worthwhile phrase, but sadly, nobody does that anymore). We need new ideas from new leaders and thinkers. The articles in Government Procurement show creative and innovative solutions to problems that didn’t exist when I worked. The thought processes are still much the same, but the devil is in the details.
I will still remain active in the NIGP organization and in its chapters. My Chapter, VAGP, extended their geographical limits approximately 300 miles north and allowed me to join. Their members are some of the best we have.
I’ll be the guy sitting in the lobby of the hotel at conferences and forums, talking about our profession, hockey and fishing. Stop off, say hello, and let me know that you are thriving.
Thank you all for your comments and ideas about my articles. It’s been the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on.
Fred Marks, CPPO, VCO, is a retired purchasing officer who has held positions as a supervising buyer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well as director of material management for Northern Virginia Community College. Contact Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This is Fred Marks' last column in Government Procurement. As noted above, Fred started writing the column in April, 2006. We wish Fred well in the future.