Cooperation agreements can save time as public procurement workload increases

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the workload of public markets, says Ian Coyle, Administrator of Livingston County, NY Coyle is administrative, budget and purchasing director for the county (population 65,000), which is located in Rochester, NY, Empire State metropolitan area.

“The pandemic has affected all elements of local government operations. During declared state and local emergencies, procurement regulations have sometimes been relaxed to allow for emergency purchases, procurement policy waivers, and other measures. of flexibility,” Coyle said. Cooperative Solutions.

He says work volumes have escalated as the supply chain crisis has developed during the pandemic. Additionally, new and unique purchases such as COVID test kits and orders for personal protective equipment have flooded the inboxes of government procurement offices. “Like many employment situations in the Great Reset or the Great Resignation, public procurement offices are not spared when it comes to impacts such as retirements or staff departures or stressors for mental health such as burnout and fatigue,” says Coyle.

Coyle believes that cooperative supply agreements play an important role in public purchasing services. “Cooperative purchasing agreements are an excellent tool and can save money, time and human resources. The work has been done, so to speak, as in the bulk of the work of specifications, pre-approvals and other contractual conditions. He notes that thousands of supplies, equipment and other purchases are available to governments and other public entities under national, state, local and regional cooperation contracts. “It’s a no-brainer for public procurement officials to exercise the tremendous advantage that cooperative procurement offers to their department and jurisdiction.”

He says Livingston County participates in many cooperative contracts. “These include Sourcewell, OMNIA Partners (formerly US Communities), and the New York State Office of General Service. In addition, the county is a party to some Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) contracts which also involve regional school cooperatives.

Coyle says forward-thinking local government administrators can take several steps to ensure continuity and stability as public procurement professionals retire, move into the private sector, or leave the profession. “They can develop succession plans to recruit replacements for their supply team members. They can also focus on reviewing and updating job descriptions to reflect current responsibilities, as these specifications are often outdated and woefully insufficient in terms of capturing the true scope of work for government procurement positions. of today.

Local government, Coyle believes, should have a workforce that reflects the population it serves. “Too often, that’s not the case,” he adds. He says several techniques can be used to recruit more professionals from Blacks, Indigenous peoples, people of color, women and other underrepresented groups.

“Developing ties with public administration groups like the Local Government Hispanic Network and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators is a recommended best practice for all hires. He adds that underrepresented groups may not have access to key decision makers, so actions such as speaking and networking with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are crucial for recruitment. “Establishing mentorship and job shadowing programs for college students would be an important step in raising awareness of opportunities in these groups,” adds Coyle.

Public officials need to cast a wide net as they work to engage future cadre of procurement administrators, Coyle believes. “Governments should specifically focus on broader outreach efforts with all recruitments. Gone are the days of posting jobs and waiting for people to apply. Local government recruitment agencies need to seek, find and, in some cases, train and/or professionally develop the next generation of procurement managers. »

He notes that there are several work areas and job categories where staff members tend to gravitate towards careers in public procurement, including administrative assistant, banking, accounting, finance and management.

There’s no shortage of organizations that can help recruit new professionals, Coyle says. Here are a few he offers:

  • ICMA is the world’s leading association of professional city and county managers and other employees serving local governments.
  • State-Level Municipal Purchasing Associations
  • Hispanic Network of Local Governments
  • National Forum of Black Public Administrators
  • Colleges and universities
  • Sites like LinkedIn

Coyle is cautiously optimistic as he reviews his county’s budgets and operations in the first quarter of 2022. ‘Sales tax and business activity in the county have rebounded, but of course inflation driven prices are responsible for part of the increase. We hope to return to a renewed focus on community and economic development as well as broadband expansion efforts in Livingston County.

He is confident about the performance of his county’s economy. “We remain hopeful for the local economy. In some ways, we’re insulated from the drastic top-to-bottom changes of the big metros. Small business job creation, Main Street/downtown development, agribusiness, broadband expansion and outdoor recreation/tourism will be our key economic drivers in 2022 . »

Michael Keating is editor for US city and county. Contact him at [email protected].

Virginia S. Braud