Government Insight: Government procurement transformation

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We welcome Stuart Crome, JP, Manager Procurement, Exhibits and Records at the Australian Federal Police, to share his thoughts on government procurement transformation.

As one of the key speakers at a recent Public Sector Network conference in Canberra, the AFP’s Stuart Crome had some very interesting things to say about government procurement transformation.

He emphasised that early industry engagement and raising the profile of procurement within government agencies are key, and was kind enough to provide additional insight by responding to our three questions.

1. You spoke of the need for government to elevate the status/importance of procurement as a function in government’s overall strategy. Could you elaborate on this?

Procurement can tend to be a ‘downstream activity’ in the planning process – the focus is more about budgets. However, the nature of what is being procured and the size of investments being made require a more proactive and deliberative process.

Procurement is a skillset that needs to be nurtured and matured within the financial acumen domain – especially given the impact it can have on industry and the financial accountability of the size of expenditures we are involved in. Lastly, treating the procurement personnel and the capability as a profession to ensure currency, appropriate skills and effective engagement is essential.

2. You spoke on how government can achieve greater strategic outcomes by engaging with potential and actual suppliers in formulating tender approaches. Can you outline some of these strategic benefits?

My thought behind this was that there is a mindset that everything has to be done ‘in-house’ and assumes a department has the requisite skills and knowledge to undertake every task. The reality is there are aspects around the procurement of products and services where external support would enhance the outcome.

For example, consider unique or highly specialised procurements like defining the needs for a plane to deliver capabilities. The skillset and knowledge around what makes a plane good or not, compliance requirements and maintenance are things that would not normally be held within the organisation and should be obtained from experts.

3. In having greater government and business interaction, what would you like business to be more aware of when providing information as suppliers to government?

My initial thoughts are twofold. Firstly, know your customer. Invest the time to learn what the agency is responsible for and what its pain points may be in order to craft your engagement. It boils down to relevance and credibility. I am talking about the more complex and strategic procurements. Transactional engagements (e.g. purchasing stationary) do to not feature in this regard.

Secondly, once engaged I think there is a lot of opportunity to develop the strategic engagement process. Establish lines of communications about how the engagement is working, review and address any issues, acknowledge the positive, and work collaboratively. Challenge the norms of the traditional ‘fire and forget model’. This is a shared responsibility that benefits all parties.

Also see our post: Digital sector driving government procurement transformation

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