Book Review: A guide for managers and buyers
This book, recently published by Lourdes Coss, translates her experience in public procurement into a guide for managers and buyers. She has over twenty years of professional experience, holds a CPPO certification, and is a former board member of NIGP. “Procurement Methods: Effective Techniques” provides specific guidance on common procurement techniques and best practices. In addition to an explanation of various procurement methods, the book includes sample language that can be used for solicitation development.
“Procurement Methods: Effective Techniques” wastes no time in laying the issues of the public procurement profession out on the table. An introductory chapter offers some perspectives on the field that some practitioners may not want to hear, but need to be discussed nonetheless. The author notes that many in the profession arrived here by chance and that they may not possess the needed skills to be successful. Specifically, Coss challenges colleagues that are bound by process and rules to consider solutions that are more creative and can truly add value to their organization.
The author continues by posing the question that many academicians and practitioners have for years pondered: is public procurement an art or a science? She contends that it is both. By leveraging creative solutions (art) along with consistent methods (science), public procurement can best meet the complex needs of the government.
The main body of the book utilizes separate chapters for the three basic methods of procurement: invitation to bid (ITB), request for proposals (RFP), and request for qualifications (RFQ). Coss states that the ITB method remains the “go to” standard for public agencies, and that if done correctly, does not mean that low cost means low quality. Other methods of source selection are addressed that focus on qualifications and best value, rather than least cost. Regardless of the procurement method selected, the book stresses the need for clearly crafted solicitations that identify things like purpose and basis of award.
The final chapter deals with alignment and consistency in the public procurement process. After discussing the various methods in the previous chapters, the author attempts to “pull it all together” at the end of the book. The need for consistent terminology and standardization are stressed. Readers are also reminded of the importance of submittal requirements as procurement professionals look to determine responsiveness and responsibility.
While this book is shorter than many other procurement publications, that should not be considered a shortcoming. It effectively and concisely lays out procurement methods that public agencies should be employing, and guides the reader through the important aspects of each. Specific examples and suggestions are very easy to follow for each procurement method.
In summary, this publication is a welcome addition to any public procurement library. A seasoned procurement professional takes the time to share valuable lessons that can be quickly learned and applied. My recommendation is for colleagues to acquire “Procurement Methods: Effective Techniques,” whether in printed paperback or e-book. They will definitely benefit from reading it.
DARIN MATTHEWS, FNIGP, CPPO, CPSM, is the director of procurement for the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has extensive management experience, speaks throughout the world on procurement issues, and has published several books and article on supply chain management. Contact Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org