NSI News

Some Good News in this Year’s Budget

New York State and local governments purchase more than $44 billion in goods and services every year and those purchases will grow dramatically in complexity and scope if Congress approves the economic stimulus package proposed by President Elect Barack Obama. Many of us hope that an infrastructure package will help us through these difficult economic times, but just imagine the irony if New York State government maintains its bureaucratic and slow moving ways and we can’t get that federal money out the door. What a lost opportunity so critically needed to help get our State’s economy back on-track.

As a former Assistant in the State Comptroller’s Office overseeing the State’s contracting process and as a manager of a large multistate contract for a global corporation, I’ve seen firsthand the good, the bad and the ugly parts of the government procurement process. Unfortunately, the current process hinders both the state employees managing it and businesses wanting to leverage it. It’s so burdensome and complicated that like many other facets of government, procurement has become an insiders’ game and insiders loves rules and regulations; the more complex the process, the more necessary they become.

While Governor Paterson’s Executive budget released this week is replete with pain and cuts across all government programs, his proposal to establish a new Office of Procurement Services intended to “improve the state’s procurement policies, coordinate purchasing across state agencies, (and) develop new approaches to leverage the buying power of the state” could have a significant impact on the fortunes of our State. If this new Office is given the power, authority and staff to truly streamline our procurement process (while keeping it open and transparent at the same time), we have a sound tool to help control our State’s economic destiny.

Therefore, I encourage the State Senate and Assembly to act quickly on the Governor’s proposal for an Office of Procurement Services and for that Office to quickly tackle an ambitious agenda including:

-Streamlining the procurement process so that any federal monies going toward an economic stimulus package can serve as just that — a stimulus for economic growth and job creation;
-Looking at ways to use our purchasing power across state and local agencies. We all understand the power of consolidating our buying--imagine the economies we could bring to bear with our huge government purse;
-Serving as a catalyst for procurement innovation including quick approaches to construction like design/build and innovative ways to finance our large projects and systems; and,
-Using technology to streamline and speed up procurements. New York lags other governments’ efforts to automate the procurement workflow. The right technology can greatly speed up how we buy everything, from copy paper to road construction.

This year’s State’s budget is full of gloom and doom. However, a new Office of Procurement Services could allow New York to introduce innovation and speed in our purchasing process. Let’s not waste this enormous opportunity for economic stimulus and turnaround.

###

For more information, please contact Heather Sabharwal at hsabharwal@kglobal.com or 202-349-7016.