Academic journal article The Public Manager

Help for Front-Line Managers from the Procurement Executive Council

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Help for Front-Line Managers from the Procurement Executive Council

Article excerpt

What must acquisition professionals do to meet customer demands, and what can the PEC do to help them achieve strategic procurement goals?

In the management book Winnie-the-Pooh on Problem Solving, Roger E. Allen and Stephen D. Allen explain, "...whether something is considered a problem is subjective, and the perception of its seriousness might vary from individual to individual." As procurement executive for the Department of Commerce (DOC), it is clear to me that the Procurement Executive Council's (PEC) relevance is its ability to allow all departments to conserve resources by tackling common initiatives together. After all, the PEC consists of the senior procurement official from each federal agency and the administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy. If this group can't make it happen, who can? However, as I recently discovered, acquisition's frontline professionals have a differing perception.

Several months ago a contract specialist voiced her concern that the procurement executive's office and the PEC no longer connected to the field. She felt my office and the PEC were working on grand design programs that result in neat awards and articles for PEC members, but do not help the front-line procurement manager or translate into effective contracting. It was during this conversation I realized the PEC suffers from the perception problem as defined by Roger E. Allen and Stephen D. Allen.

Initiatives to Benefit the Frontline

This article explains why the PEC is pursuing various initiatives and how the initiatives will benefit the front line. The PEC views the procurement community as a large service organization faced with dwindling resources and a rapidly changing environment. The PEC has articulated a vision of what the acquisition professional must do to meet customers' demands. With this vision in mind, the PEC has focused on five key strategic objectives:

* Create a workforce of mission-focused business leaders.

* Optimize the technology as a key business enabler.

* Lead collaboration to achieve desired business results.

* Effectively integrate socioeconomic programs in the federal acquisition system.

* Transform the acquisition system for better business results.

The foundation of the PEC vision and strategies is found in the Federal Acquisition Regulation's (FAR) "Statement of Guiding Principles." Once the objectives and strategies were determined, several initiatives for each strategy were established. These initiatives are not new to many organizations. Several departments have been working on these for quite a while. The goal was to maximize the use of resources, share developmental costs, and implement the initiatives faster.

The following will highlight several initiatives for each strategic objective and relate how the initiatives will help contracting officers and specialists improve service delivery to their customers and become business leaders in the federal government.

Creating a Workforce of Mission-Focused Business Leaders

Peter Drucker, in his book Managing for Results, states that, "Business is a human organization, made or broken by the quality of its people." All of us want to be part of an organization where everyone is qualified and contributes to the mission. The PEC believes recruiting, retaining, and rewarding a quality workforce are critical to reaching the PEC vision. Here are several key initiatives to support a quality workforce.

Governmentwide Procurement Intern Program. The Department of the Interior University established a procurement intern program. This program allows agencies to recruit new talent, train them, give them broad procurement experiences, and by the end of their internship meet all mandatory training requirements and be ready to lead major procurements. The benefit to the frontline is in consolidating the recruiting effort, minimizing the cost of training, and placing highly motivated individuals on the frontline to produce while they learn the profession. …

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