NIGP's Position Papers, Research Reports and White Papers

Research & Reports

Browse our collection of position papers, research reports, and white papers on topics that are relevant to public procurement. 

Browse our Collection

Position Papers

NIGP position papers define the organization's position on important and relevant procurement topics, policies, and practices that have far-reaching implications for procurement professionals and the customers they support.  Position papers are developed by a volunteer task force under the leadership of the NIGP Board-appointed Legislative and Position Committee.


 Best Value Procurement Methods: Professional Services - Overcoming the Limitations of Low-Bid and QBS

In this position paper, NIGP explores procurement best practices and methods for overcoming the limitations of low-bid and qualifications-based selection (QBS) methods of selecting professional services providers. NIGP does not support mandates that require public entities to apply a QBS method for selecting service providers. Instead, NIGP supports two principles, i) price competition and, ii) ideas competition.

When combined with other important factors to achieving public interest, following these two principles can lead to balance in procurement situations. To achieve this balance, it is essential for a public entity to match its selection criteria with its needs and the options available on the marketplace.

This paper explores how public procurement has learned from previous mistakes of focusing solely on price, and the importance of relying on other methods to evaluate suppliers, including a best value" selection method to create a more equitable competitive landscape. It demonstrates how this method is better for public entities because it is not a one-size-fits-all method and, therefore, is more likely to be suitable for all types of entities and situations.

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 Maintaining Procurement Principles as Technology Advances

This position paper explores the importance of maintaining principles in the procurement profession and the challenges presented by an ever-changing technological environment. Technology is, overall, having a positive impact on public procurement operations, especially in the advancement of e-procurement. However, there are also limitations to consider, including the fact that technology has the potential to enable shortcuts or remove professional judgment at particular steps, which could lead to several risks, including fraud.

As advances in technology permeate procurement activities, procurement professionals need to understand the potential implications of technology when it's utilized in their organization's procurement systems.  Implementing procurement solutions that are technology-based will not change underlying laws or policies, just processes. In order to preserve the integrity of the procurement process, procurement professionals need to closely examine all changes to ensure that processes strengthen procurement values, including remaining fair and inclusive.

This paper examines the potential implications of an e-procurement process and outlines steps for procurement professionals to take when adapting from a manual to a technologically-driven process that maintains the integrity of the procurement profession.

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 The Strategic Value of Procurement in Public Entities

The strategic value of procurement in public entities is not always readily apparent, especially compared with other important elements, such as making sure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly. While not all-encompassing, this paper addresses several ways that procurement adds strategic value to public entities, including risk mitigation, contract management, supplier relationship management, technology use, and spend management.

NIGP believes strongly that organizations must involve procurement professionals early in the strategic planning process to gain the most value for their respective organizations. When procurement professionals have a strong seat at the planning table and are brought on early, they ensure that their procurement strategies align with the organization's overall goals and strategies.

In addition to describing how procurement adds strategic value to public entities, this paper also discusses opportunities available for procurement professionals eager to deliver strategic value to their public entity every day. By understanding how and when they can add value, procurement professionals are better equipped to make decisions that have a positive impact on the public.

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 Local Preference in Public Procurement

This paper explores the reasons why NIGP does not support the use of preference policies. NIGP maintains that preference policies, including local preferences, conflict with the fundamental public procurement principles of impartiality and full and open competition. Those who promote preference policies claim advantages of helping and protecting the local economy. However, there are also considerable disadvantages to consider, including an increased cost to taxpayers to implement these types of program, a limitation on supplier competition, and a reduced incentive for local businesses to provide the best value for the dollar of purchased goods and services.

While NIGP does not support the use of preference policies, it does support economic, social, and sustainable communities as part of its core values and guiding principles. NIGP acknowledges that governments might adopt local preferences as a tool for improving their local economies and recommends that local procurement preferences only be implemented as one of several criteria in a 'best value' evaluation and award process.

This paper examines advantages and disadvantages to local preferences in public procurement and gives an in-depth explanation of why NIGP does not support it as a means of improving local economies.

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 Procurement Authority in Public Entities

Procurement authority is a fundamental concept in the public sector and in the administration of government. It is extremely important for governments to spend taxpayer dollars responsibly, protected from undue influence and in the best interest of the communities they serve. Government can achieve these goals by following public procurement policies, which are best accomplished by delegating procurement authority to a Chief Procurement Officer who is accountable to a governing body or chief executive. 

This paper explores what a public authority is, why it's important, and who should hold the position of public authority. It will also make a case for delegating procurement authority to the Chief Procurement Officer. It demonstrates that, by remaining impartial and transparent, the Chief Procurement Officer can help ensure that public funds are awarded to serve the best interest of the public at large and in full compliance of public policy and law.

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 Best Value in Government Procurement

Achieving best value is an essential goal of procurement practices. This position paper defines the NIGP understanding of what "Best Value Procurement" means and identifies steps organizations can take to articulate best value for their organization and how to achieve it.

"Value" combines several elements, including identifying what is important and how much is important. Describing the value of a procured good or service includes several procurement considerations, such as the reliability of suppliers, prioritizing preferences for types of businesses (veteran-owned, minority-owned, small businesses, etc.), and identifying all costs through a cost-life analysis.

This paper also describes the concept of a best value policy (BVP), which provides a framework for organizations to use in decision making, and it includes standards for accountability and a series of questions for procurement professionals to answer when determining what best value means for a particular situation.

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 Negotiation: Lost Art or Core Competency?

Negotiation is a valuable skill for procurement professionals and is a standard method of contracting in federal, state, and local government procurement. In procurement, negotiating is mainly used to help buyers and sellers arrive at a settlement, and it takes the form of binding contracts.  Knowing how to effectively negotiate can help procurement professionals make sure their contracts bring the most value to their organization. Beyond that, procurement professionals should also understand how to negotiate in a way that still satisfies the other party.

Procurement professionals need to prepare and plan for negotiations in order to achieve win-win solutions. Negotiation can improve the overall combination of quality, service and other elements required for successfully meeting the organization’s requirements. As a core competency, negotiation requires training and practice through professional development.

This paper explores how negotiation is perceived in the world of public procurement and explores whether it is understood as a lost art or a core competency among agencies. It offers suggestions for how procurement professionals can improve their negotiating skills.

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 Cooperative Procurement: Great Value, Great Confusion

Cooperative procurement solutions offer resource challenged agencies the opportunity to improve the efficiency of their operations while saving money. This paper demonstrates how cooperative procurement is effective in saving taxpayer dollars, and what makes it a viable alternative to conventional, independent procurement processes.

Cooperative solutions are appropriate for many circumstances, but they are not a solo solution for all purchases at all times. Cooperative procurement was developed to meet specific needs to realize their full value when applied with an understanding of their appropriate use and limitations.

This position paper describes NIGP’s view of cooperative practices and programs while also examining the nature of, and changes in, the cooperative procurement landscape. It recommends best practices in the evaluation and use of cooperative solutions and emphasizes the responsibility of procurement professionals to ensure that cooperative solutions are implemented in a manner consistent with local legislation and with due regard for preference groups.

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 Outsourcing in the Public Sector

Outsourcing in the Public Sector emphasizes the essential role of procurement staff in the outsourcing decision and its successful execution. In the public sector, the term "outsourcing" refers to the practice of contracting out to third-party vendors functions that had previously been completed by public employees. The practice of outsourcing can be fiscally sound. However, it should not be undertaken without serious consideration about its potential implications.

Outsourcing has been common practice in government for at least a century, although it gained momentum in the 1980's. While not a new concept, outsourcing still has a direct impact on a government entity’s ability to function successfully and deliver necessary services to the public.

This paper discusses the role of the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) in making the decision for a public entity to outsource. The decision to outsource must be well-informed and thoughtful. It should be supported by skilled professionals who have the strategic vision and expertise to improve operations while protecting the public good.

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Transparency in Government Procurement

Public procurement has a unique role when it comes to how democratic government is executed. It is simultaneously focused on supporting the missions of internal customers, while also serving as stewards of the public​, whose tax dollars directly impact the decisions that their governing body make.

Transparency is essential for building trust and keeping the public aware of government practices in a democracy. Through transparency, government agencies can increase public confidence and ensure government stability. Technology has evolved to help government agencies communicate directly to the public, yet not every government entity has the financial ability to provide technology-based information.

In this position paper, NIGP highlights the historical importance of transparency in a democracy and reviews the contemporary tools available that enable even greater transparency. It offers a series of recommendations that governments can adopt to achieve transparency in practice, without undue burden. 

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Research Papers

NIGP provides practical and useful research findings to help procurement professionals in their everyday decision making.


 NASPO's Assessing State PPE Procurement During COVID-19: A RESEARCH REPORT

Published by NASPO this report focuses on the PPE shortages that occurred throughout the United States in 2020. It examines the structural influence of state procurement offices on the ability to respond in an agile and effective manner, specifically exploring how the levels of centralization of state procurement, led by the state Chief Procurement Officer (CPOs), were associated with the responsiveness of state agencies to obtain PPE supplies during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download - Assessing State PPE Procurement During COVID-19: A RESEARCH REPORT


 Procurement Compensation & Retention Benchmark Study 2020

The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) is pleased to offer its eighth biennial Compensation Survey Report on positions within public sector procurement. This report covers the 2020 study and reports key data from the previous seven studies. Each of the studies covered two years of data as respondents were asked to report their current year salary (as of the previous December) as well as their previous year’s salary. For the first time, this report includes an 18-year salary trend for procurement professionals starting with 2001 through 2019. No data was collected between 2011 and 2015.

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 Public Procurement Benchmark Survey Report 2019

NIGP strives to provide practical and useful research findings to assist everyday decision making for procurement professionals. Benchmarks and benchmarking, due to increasing budgetary constraints, represent two dimensions that our members find particularly important in supporting their daily work.

The role of public procurement as a profession and governing pillar has been growing steadily over the last few years. Increasingly, public procurement is being recognized as a means for government organizations to achieve operational efficiencies. The challenge this poses is that often, procurement departments within government entities are frequently understaffed, underfunded, and under-trained. Typically procurement professionals must go outside of organizations for reliable training resources to progress in their careers and help their entities achieve success.

This report provides entities with a structured way to compare their operations with those of other public procurement entities. Survey results focus on specific operating practices and processes that allow individual entities to examine and identify potential opportunities to improve operating practices within their organization.

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 Local Government Entity Sustainable Procurement Study 2019

This research paper discusses current trends in sustainable procurement in local governments across North America, particularly within the United States, focusing on supplier diversity and green procurement.

The report defines supplier diversity as minority and women-owned business programs that encourage participation in contracting opportunities for these underrepresented groups and may also have a broader socioeconomic goal. It defines green public procurement as the approach public authorities take to integrate environmental criteria into all stages of the procurement process.

With these definitions in mind, the report assesses supplier diversity and green procurement as major components of sustainable procurement initiatives. It uses research collected in 2018 from NIGP's survey of local government member entities. The survey collected information about how relevant green public procurement and supplier diversity practices are among entities, with varying results.

The report includes aggregated results of responses to the survey that was sent out in 2018. After reading the report, readers will have a better understanding of how entities across the United States are or are not implementing green public procurement and supplier diversity initiatives within their organization.

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 Procurement Compensation & Retention Benchmark Study 2018

NIGP's seventh biennial Compensation Survey Report offers comparative compensation information to classify public procurement positions and determine appropriate salary ranges. In addition, this year's report includes a supplement on retention and turnover rates.

The 2018 study was conducted using two survey instruments that were issued to NIGP members. The first is an agency survey that asked agency representatives to submit information about the number of people who held positions in each position within their organization, along with salary information for each position for the current and previous year. The second survey instrument was issued to all individuals who receive NIGP member benefits. This survey asked members to submit information about their salary along with factors that can impact their salary, including education, certification, benefits, and bonuses.

As a result of sending out these two surveys, NIGP received self-reported responses from 590 procurement agencies and 2,450 procurement professionals in the United States and Canada. 

This report shows that salaries for procurement professionals are on the rise across ranks and that the majority of procurement professionals in higher ranked positions hold procurement-specific certifications. It includes specific salary range information for different regions within the United States and Canada that can be useful for procurement professionals and agencies to study when making salary and hiring decisions.

Additional data included in this report includes information about the relationship between education and job success, and cites the primary reasons why procurement professionals who intend to leave their positions do so.

DOWNLOAD - Procurement Compensation & Retention Benchmark Study 2018


 The Challenges, Benefits, and Best Practices of Effectively Adopting ERP Systems: A Procurement Perspective 2018

There is a growing trend of public entities adopting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. This report provides greater understanding of ERP systems, including their scope, logical frame, and operational capacities. Additionally, it develops a framework of the most difficult challenges facing organizations when adopting ERP systems and provides procurement professionals with practical steps and best practices to follow for procuring an ERP system.

The report is motivated by market trends and conversations with professionals who expressed their disappointment in how the procurement modules perform within these systems. It was compiled using research from reviewed publications, interviews of procurement professionals, and a survey that solicited input from 1,000 agencies on their experiences implementing an ERP software system within their organization.

After reading this report, procurement professionals will have a better understanding of how ERP systems operate and what steps to take when procuring one for their organization.

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 A Guide to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - What Public Procurement Specialists Need to Know

Facing increasingly constrained budgets and with an inability to generate additional revenues, many governments have turned to partnerships with the private and nonprofit sectors.

The main purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive discussion of PP/NP arrangements. And while the rhetoric surrounding their development has been overwhelmingly positive – in reality, there is much confusion.

It is important that public procurement specialists remain realistic about the possibilities of PP/NPs and proceed with caution when advocating or establishing such contractual relationships.

DOWNLOAD - A Guide to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - What Public Procurement Specialists Need to Know


 The Value of Procurement Certification

This report presents the findings of research undertaken to gain insight into how North American public procurement officials perceive the value of professional certification in public procurement and contract management (PPCM). The results indicate that most of the PPCM practitioners believe professional certification is beneficial for both PPCM officials and their employers. This report also presents findings related to why some PPCM officials do not seek professional certification; why public entities do or do not require or consider certification; how managers who are themselves PPCM officials compare the performance of PPCM employees who are certified with the performance of PPCM employees who are not certified; and the extent to which organizations that employ PPCM officials provide support and incentives to promote and recognize certification.

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 Characteristics and Contract Type Report

Products vary on two key dimensions, how easy or difficult it is to define the product’s requirements and the degree to which specialized investments are required to produce the product. While contracts for complex products pose greater risks of cost overruns, delivery delays, and failed products, these risks are exacerbated when there is a mismatch between the type of contract used to acquire the product and the product’s characteristics. Consistent with contracting best practice and regulatory guidance, fixed price contracts are best suited for simple products and cost reimbursement contracts are best suited for complex products.

This report provides measures of product characteristics that are sources of risks in contracting, namely the degree to which it is difficult to specify the product’s attributes or requirements, and the degree to which specialized investments are required to produce the product.

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 Sustainable Public Procurement

With the ever-changing focus on public procurement practices and in order to enhance, support and advocate for advancements within the field, this report is being presented to identify the trend of sustainable public procurement (SPP) practices within public sector agencies. The survey from which this report is based aims to emphasize the values placed within public agencies pertaining to sustainable practices and the future direction of SPP. Understanding of the findings of this report, while limited in its scope due to the nature of the survey, do contain a number of beneficial recommendations. These recommendations address a forward-thinking direction of practice within public sector agencies and must be considered within the constraints presented by both the sample and methodology used.

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The CPO-CIO Relationship Survey Report

The role played by information technologies (IT) in public procurement has increased dramatically in the past two decades. By most accounts the trend is expected to continue into the future. The success of any adoption process depends heavily on the relationship between internal stakeholders. Within this context, the relationship between an organization’s Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) becomes of particular interest. This report provides the findings of recent research that evaluated some challenges and opportunities within the relationships between CPOs and CIOs.

DOWNLOAD - The CPO-CIO Relationship Survey Report

White Papers

The NIGP library of white papers aim to improve the supplier/buyer relationship by sharing the supplier's perspective with the larger public procurement community.


 The Supplier-Practitioner Connection

In this white paper, the 2017 NIGP Business Council examines the different ways that suppliers can add value to procurement, regardless of the procurement strategy an agency is using. Public procurement professionals employ a range of strategies to make procurement decisions that best meet the needs and goals of their agencies. Some use a best value approach or financial analysis while others use cooperative purchasing agreements or other strategies. Although their strategies may differ, all procurement professionals can find value in working closely with their suppliers.

This paper is intended to help procurement professionals and suppliers obtain a better understanding of how to strengthen this critical relationship. It explores how suppliers can help entities with their procurement strategies. It also provides information on what suppliers must do to provide value to an entity or agency even when changes occur in the marketplace. When suppliers and procurement practitioners work together, they can form mutually beneficial relationships that add value to their entities.

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 Total Cost of Ownership: Realizing Procurement's Full Potential in Value Creation

In this white paper, the 2016 NIGP Business Council explores the total cost of ownership (TCO) approach to procurement and how it can help agencies achieve best value and sustainable, long-term cost savings or performance improvements. Total Cost of Ownership: Realizing Procurement's Full Potential in Value Creation examines the value of TCO and how it can be integrated into the procurement process.

TCO is widely used in private market procurement, yet it is underutilized in government procurement, in which most agencies still focus on price when selecting suppliers instead of considering the full value that a supplier can bring to their relationship in the short- and long-term.

This white paper examines how agencies can overcome challenges in implementing a TCO approach, along with ways to identify and realize some quick wins to gain traction and quantify the value of utilizing TCO. Finally,  this paper discusses the benefits of this approach and how it can positively impact an agency and the public.

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 The Healthy Agency-Supplier Relationship Guide

The Healthy-Agency Supplier Relationship Guide, presented by the NIGP Business Council, looks at several different ways that procurement professionals and suppliers can improve their communication and outcomes through specific activities. These activities apply not only to contract-based interactions, but also to the relationship procurement staff and end users have with suppliers when not discussing or considering a specific contract. These interactions can include daily small threshold purchases or simply discussing industry trends and hot topics.

Some of the recommended practices offered in this guide include developing a supplier/procurement communication plan, creating a formal process for communication, holding ongoing meetings with potential offerors, sharing contractual pricing, participating in training opportunities, etc. 

These practices are applicable to a wide range of situations and types of solicitations and suppliers. They are intended to help both suppliers and agencies save valuable time and money while improving communication and developing a more collaborative procurement process.

DOWNLOAD - The Healthy Agency-Supplier Relationship Guide


 EVERYBODY WINS: Crafting a Solicitation that Fosters Transparency, Best Value, and Collaborative Partnership

This white paper picks up where "We 'No Bid,' and I'll Tell You Why" left off. Presented by the NIGP Business Council, this paper continues the discussion and digs deeper to discover what agencies can do to optimize the number and quality of supplier submissions to ensure that agencies can realize their operational goals. 

After talking to procurement professionals at Forum, local conferences, events, and webinars, the Business Council members who authored the original white paper address comments and questions they have been asked in "Everybody Wins: Crafting a Solicitation that Fosters Transparency, Best Value, and Collaborative Partnership." The paper's main goal is to help agencies save time, money, and resources while improving their RFP/IFB processes.

This paper includes recommended practices that procurement professionals should consider when developing an RFB/IFB in the context of four unique procurement categories: Commodities, Capital Equipment, IT and Services. Also included are three key quick reference guides that you’ll want to keep handy at all times.

DOWNLOAD - EVERYBODY WINS: Crafting a Solicitation that Fosters Transparency, Best Value, and Collaborative Partnership


We "No Bid," and I'll Tell You Why

Presented by the NIGP Business Council, this is part one in a series of white papers that connects the supplier’s perspective with the public procurement community in an effort to improve the buyer/supplier relationship. This white paper represents one of the ways in which the Business Council supports the educational mission of NIGP.

We “No Bid,” and I’ll Tell You Why is an amalgamation of real-world examples related to why a company may choose not to bid on a particular Request for Proposal (RFP) or Invitation for Bid (IFB). It is intended to present a complex topic in simple terms. For this particular subject, the authors illustrate the potential reasons why a company may choose not to bid through the use of an admittedly simplistic, low-dollar, local in scope example. However, the basic principles of this example apply to bids which are national in scope and much higher in dollar value.

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