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'Transparent as Glass' NIGP Forum 2013 Overview

'Transparent as Glass' NIGP Forum 2013 Overview

In August 2013, the Institute for Public Procurement (NIGP) held its annual NIGP Forum in Orlando, Florida. BidNet and SourceSuite were selected to host an educational panel discussion at the forum regarding transparency in the public sector. The panel session "Transparent as Glass: Transparency throughout the Procurement Process" was an open discussion with four panelists...

  • Keith Ashby, CPPO, Purchasing Manager of Arapahoe County, Colorado
  • Donna Ball, CPPB, Purchasing Technician at Eastern Suffolk BOCES in New York
  • Pete Toth, Purchasing Manager for the City of Arvada, Colorado
  • Janine Rossi, Client Relations Manager for SourceSuite

The panel discussion was a success. 100% of the attendees taking the workshop survey stated that the presenters were knowledgeable and 80% of attendees felt group participation was encouraged. The session covered multiple areas of transparency within local government procurement. Topics of discussion were open to audience participation. The topics with the most interest from the audience included how to handle non-awarded vendors and potential protests, sole-sourcing and cooperative purchasing national groups. A few questions were raised regarding the future impact of national co-ops. Our panelist, Pete Toth, brought up a concern about local competition: Will we wake up in 10 years and think, where have all the local vendors gone? The time-line for contacting vendors who were not awarded the bid differed not only by state law, but also agency-by-agency. About 50% of the attendees raised their hands when asked if they had gone through a vendor protest within the last six months. The panel, all users of a SourceSuite bid system, had seen a dramatic decrease in protests since using the bid system for its bid distribution and vendor management.

The panel session started with introductions of the panelists by moderator Kim Cullen (Director of Marketing for SourceSuite) and quickly dove into transparency-related questions and topics. The majority of the hour-and-a-half session was spent discussing key questions with panel and audience participation. The session lasted the entire 90 minutes. One attendee stated within the survey that what most resonated with them was "different perspectives on how others handle their bid process and how they keep things transparent." 100% of the attendees surveyed stated that sessions such as "Transparent as Glass" should be addressed at future NIGP Forum workshops and that it was a "hot topic" within the industry.

Questions and Topics discussed during the "Transparent as Glass" panel session included:

  • Does sole sourcing and/or a cooperative obstruct a transparent bid process, or vendor participation?
  • Should questions and responses be available to all potential bidders even if they are not material?
  • How do we end the perception that supplier selection is a conflict of interest versus a valid lowest total value option?
  • Does transparency with non-winning suppliers decrease the number of protests?
  • Should we share information before it is requested or simply obey the letter of the law when the public asks?
  • Does transparency ultimately lead to a successful procurement process?

Kim Cullen | sourcesuite.com

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