Navigating Success in Public Procurement: The Importance of Life-Long Learning

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In this installment of Learning by Design, we delve into the significant findings from the recently published 2023 NIGP Workforce Development Study, shedding light on the vital role of continuous learning for procurement professionals. In our rapidly evolving professional landscape, maintaining a proactive stance is not just advantageous—it is imperative. Download the Study here and join me as I review the data. 

Bridging Proficiency Gaps: Competency Self-Assessment 

In Spring 2023, NIGP invited members to self-assess their competency in the seven focus areas related to the Public Procurement Competency Framework. This study builds upon the work initiated by the Volcker Alliance in their 2016 study, "Doing the People’s Business – Key Competencies for Effective Public Procurement.” In order to effectively support practitioners in their learning journey to close gaps in competency it’s essential to understand the current state of the field. From a practitioner perspective, this data can be valuable as you develop your career plans, illuminating starting places and growth opportunities in your own learning journey.  

Let's delve into the key findings: 



While respondents exhibit strength in Mission & Public Benefit (75%), there are discernible gaps in Social Responsibility Alignment (8%) and Incorporating Social Equity Efforts (19%), necessitating a more concentrated approach in professional development. 

Policy, Legislation, and Program Oversight  


Ethics, Integrity, and Transparency score high (93%), yet developmental needs surface in Program Implementation, Management, and Legal Limits. 

Planning and Analysis 


High competency in Standardization and Requirements Planning (74-76%) contrasts with notable gaps in other analytical and forecasting competencies (35-50%). 

Sourcing and Solicitation 


Specific needs arise in Protests and Appeals, Negotiations, Evaluation Methods, and a considerable gap in International Procurements. 

Contract Administration 


Urgent attention is required in Surplus, Disposal, and Closeout; Asset and Inventory Management; and Logistics and Transportation, where 50-59% of respondents feel not skilled or somewhat skilled. 



Disparity exists between Professional and Manager levels, suggesting varied leadership skills or room for further development at the Manager level. 

Business Principles and Operations 


Business Management and Continuity demand improvement, with 43% of respondents lacking skills. This area also exhibits the lowest percentage of respondents scoring very skilled (20%). 

Conclusion: Charting the Course for Future Success 

In conclusion, the findings in the 2023 NIGP Workforce Development Study underscore the critical importance of continuous learning for public procurement professionals. While 100% competency across the field is an unrealistic goal, each professional can find places in their own skillsets to focus their learning and growth.  

Join me next month as I look into the data behind training, professional development, and the investments practitioners must make to grow their competency. In the meantime, if you would like assistance in planning your professional development, either as an individual or organizationally, I am happy to help through our free Pathways Concierge Program.  

Here's to the journey of continuous learning! 

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