Awesome Agency - City of Columbia, SC, Department of Procurement and Contracts

City of Columbia South Carolina

It is truly an honor for our Procurement & Contracts team to be spotlighted by NIGP during the 1st Member Awesomeness Campaign. Our team understands that it takes all members on the team working together for the betterment of any organization. It is our distinct privilege to also be part of Team Columbia here in the beautiful and vibrant capital city located in Columbia, South Carolina.

Thanks to our team approach, we have also been recognized as a valuable contributor as an operational support unit within our city’s organizational structure. Through the unwavering support and encouragement received from our awesome Executive Management Team, we have recently transitioned from a division to a department and placed on the same level as Finance, HR, IT and other departments.

Earlier this year, we consulted with NIGP for feedback and guidance based on recognized model best practices in public procurement and specifically as it relates to public procurement organizational structures. As expected, NIGP immediately offered suggestions. Rick Grimm and Tina Borger provided our team with a white paper on global best Practices and the “Place of Procurement within the Entity”. We would highly recommend this document to other public procurement organizations to read prior to restructuring. This information was shared with our Executive Management Team and was positively received.

There were many additional steps taken but we are pleased to report that this initial step resulted in the creation of the city’s Department of Procurement and Contracts. There are four work teams within our department including: Goods and Non-Professional Procurement Services, Construction Procurement Services, Professional Services and Contracts Administration.

There have been many positive outcomes realized from this transition. We are recognized as procurement consultants and often brought in during the planning phase of the pre-procurement process. This step is crucial to the overall success of projects, especially highly complex and technical procurement projects. By providing procurement assistance earlier in the process, we are allowed an opportunity to offer suggestions on many procurement and contracting issues as well as assist in developing a realistic timeline for completion. We also use this pre-solicitation phase to advise our end users on the risks of ambiguous, incomplete or potentially restrictive specifications as well as procurement ethics and transparency considerations. Since our management shares our position and importance placed on professional development and training, our team members are afforded the opportunity to take classes, attend webinars and other training events to stay up-to-date on best practices in our profession. We also encourage active participation on the local and national level.

As expected with any major organizational changes, it has not been all peaches and cream (Southern slang). We have faced some challenges and most likely this will continue but overall it has been a highly positive and rewarding experience. We are all looking forward to our upward mobility and success as we strive to not only meet but to exceed our internal and external customers’ expectations.

Sandra A. Wright, CPPB
Purchasing Agent, Director of Procurement and Contracts

Venus Manigo
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