Now is the Time to Invest in Continuing Education and an Agile Workforce

There continues to be tremendous uncertainty on how the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately impact the public sector's ability to deliver critical services to our citizens in the next 24 months. What is certain is that there will be fewer financial and human resources.  Although there will inevitably be impacts to each of our entities, we should not lose sight of the importance of investing and growing the professional development of our workforce. Organizations need an agile workforce who can quickly adapt to new technologies and new circumstances. We must think about the future and investing in the growth of the next generation of procurement and contracting leaders who can evolve with this ever-changing world and who will have a positive impact on our lives today and in the future. Our best asset is our people, an informed public procurement workforce that is empowered to make smart decisions that will be essential to the continued success of your organization and maintain the public's trust.

We, the undersigned, represent some of the larger public procurement organizations in state and local government.  We come together from different backgrounds and diverse communities as an Impact Circle – a group of leaders that informally guide NIGP on strategy and content development. Some of us are veteran public sector leaders who have promoted and transformed public procurement from a back-office function to a strategic partner and steward of maximizing the value of public spend. We remember the great recession of 2009-11 with its devastating impact on public procurement departmental budgets; a time when many entities restricted their professional development resources. 

The Power of Professional Development
True, we all expect the current economy will see many challenges in the near future – specifically, the job market of capable, skilled public procurement professionals.  And it may shrink further. Therefore, it is incumbent on each of us to decisively preserve the professional development dollars necessary to equip our workforce – a workforce whose efforts translate into millions of saved tax dollars annually and allow our organizations to effectively meet their missions. 

The Future of Public Procurement
Now is NOT the time to underfund learning programs that are designed to prepare practitioners for their evolving roles. Just as the great recession gave way to a robust economy, the current health and financial crisis will eventually pass, and we must be equipped with the competencies, innovations and leadership needed to assume new and expanded roles.  We cannot afford to shelve professional development opportunities until budgets rebound because, if we put education on hiatus, we will be poorly positioned to help our entity recover quickly when finances improve. With the rapid evolution of public procurement and technology, standing still means stumbling backwards. 

Fortunately, our partners at NIGP have made learning more accessible, flexible and affordable under their Pathways program. Built on the Public Procurement Competency Framework of 33 unique competency modules, procurement managers and staff can choose which learning modules best align with individual skill development.  Learning can be delivered digitally to one's laptop or mobile device while working from anywhere. And because Pathways offerings are modular, learning costs are reduced and more manageable.

The Power of We: One Voice
We realize that decisions concerning professional development may be outside of one's control.  But we cannot lose our voice or passion for continued learning and professional education. We must influence decision-makers to understand that continuous learning is essential to the long-term effectiveness of the procurement operations. And that's why we have taken a position to fight for every staff development dollar.  Join our fight by lending your voice to this cause, the future of public procurement depends on it. 

John Pellegrino, CPCM, Emergency Operations Logistics Chief, County of San Diego, California
David Wilson II, Chief Procurement Officer, City of Atlanta, GA
Edward Haines, CPPO, CPPB, Vice President of Procurement, Tampa International Airport, Florida 
Jon Medwin, MBA, CPPO, CPPB, C.P.M., Director of Procurement & Support Services, California State University East Bay
Cathy Muse, CPPO, Chief Procurement Officer, Fairfax County, Virginia
Lisa Evans, C.P.P. CSCMP, Chief Purchasing Officer, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Canada
Jennifer Olzinger, Assistant Director/Procurement Manager, City of Pittsburgh - Office of Management and Budget, Pennsylvania
John Byxbe, Director of Business Services, DGS/ Division of Purchases and Supply, The Commonwealth of Virginia


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