Public procurement field gets first standards of practice

Wednesday - 2/9/2011, 4:15pm EST

Rick Grimm, Chief Executive, National Institute of Governmental Purchasing

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Whether you're in the medical field, law, accounting or most any other profession, you follow a set of standards of practice. But the field of public sector procurement - with as much as $7 trillion annually at stake - has no such guiding principles.

The National Institute of Government Purchasing is trying to change that. The nonprofit association is proposing a set of values, principles, and standards of practices for public sector procurement.

"Even though it's led by NIGP, they're not NIGP standards and practices. They're for the profession; they're part of the public domain," said Rick Grimm, NIGP's chief executive, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

The standards will apply to state and local procurement as well, not just federal, Grimm said. Although procurement guidelines will depend on the level of government, "the values anchoring this project are universal," he said, including accountability, ethics, impartiality, professionalism, service and transparency.

NIGP's goal is to introduce 10 standards for each of the next three years. The first group of standards centers on strategic planning, performance management and performance measurement, Grimm said.

The proposals are now online and available for public comment by stakeholders. In addition to federal, state and local government, stakeholders also include associations like the National Association of Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers, the Association of Government Accountants, League of Cities and others.

Each stakeholder can take a look at the proposed standards and "kick the tires on this thing," Grimm said. These government agencies and professional groups provide their own perspectives that will make the standard richer, Grimm said.

"Because it is a public standard, we want to make sure it's as much of a collaborative process as possible," Grimm said.

Grimm added that the standards are "evolutionary." The guidelines agreed upon in 2011 may be different a few years from now.