On October 23, 2010, NIGP became the first public sector organization to adopt the Values and 27 related Guiding Principles for Public Procurement.
Historically, government procurement agents have relied on a patchwork of references to provide direction and best practices for our public service. Today, after 12 months of concerted effort by a dedicated NIGP task force of practitioners and academics, the public procurement profession has a definitive body of foundational Values and Guiding Principles.
The Values and Guiding Principles were developed by the task force with the input of over 200 responses received during a two-month public comment period.
Building upon these Values and Guiding Principles, NIGP will lead and facilitate the collaborative development of Standards of Practice for Public Procurement with many public sector stakeholders. A number of key public sector organizations have already joined with NIGP and other public procurement organizations in the collaborative development of standardized guidance for public procurement, including:
Association of Government Accountants (AGA)
Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO)
National Association of Counties (NACo)
National League of Cities (NLC)
United States Conference of Mayors
In August 2009, the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) adopted its 2009-2012 Strategic Plan with a primary objective to gain recognition of public procurement as a profession by developing guiding principles for public procurement. To this end, 2010 NIGP President Paul Brennan, CPPO, CPPB, C.P.M., Director of Purchasing for the County of Rockland, New York appointed a task force to develop the guiding principles and related descriptions that will underpin the future development of standards of practice through collaboration with key stakeholders.
NIGP Board member Marcheta E. Gillespie, CPPO, CPPB, C.P.M., CPM, Deputy Director of Procurement for the City of Tucson, Arizona, chaired the task force. Joining Ms. Gillespie in leading the project were Dr. Clifford P. McCue, Director, of the Public Procurement Research Center and Tina M. Borger, CPPO, Director of Research Director for NIGP.
The task force was rounded out with a diverse group of public procurement experts:
- Sharon T. (Gentry) Lewis, CPPB, VCO, A.P.P., Purchasing Manager, City of Roanoke, Virginia
- Mary Beth Overturf, CPPO, C.P.M., Director of General Services, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska
- Jeanette Rennie, C.P.P., Senior Contracts Officer, World Bank, Washington, DC
- Adam L. Smith, CPPB, MA, JD, Chief Procurement Officer, City of Atlanta, Georgia
- Stephanie R. Williams, CPPO, CPPB, Assistant Director, Division of Technology Services Procurement, Commonwealth of Kentucky
- Brett M. Wood, CPPB, Senior Purchasing Administrator, Johnson County, Kansas
After considerable discussion and debate, the Task Force identified three pillars by which the Values of Public Procurement should be directed. Understanding that these pillars may not be applicable across all governments, but that they serve the basis for democratic governance, the following pillars were adopted as the basis for which the subsequent values and principles were to serve:
Public Trust: Public trust can be defined as the faith the public has in governments that are created to protect their basic freedoms. Each citizen has an expectation that government, and each member of the government, will discharge their duties in a competent manner and not abuse authority granted to them. Not only does the citizen pay for these services, but they have relinquished some of their individual rights and freedoms to ensure that the government has the ability to look after their well-being. Consequently, government employees are held to a far higher standard of conduct than their private sector and non profit counterparts. An abuse of authority always is a betrayal of the public trust and is not tolerated in a democratic society. All public procurement agencies, large or small, and the professionals who work in the field are dependent on a high level of public trust. Since society has entrusted them with the power to spend public resources efficiently and effectively, it is only natural that people are concerned that public procurement professionals do not abuse this power. Thus, public procurement operations are subject to intense public scrutiny.
Public Service: Government organizations touch people’s lives every day, in many different ways. Although there are great differences in the services agencies provide and the number of people they serve, a common concern is the need to make the best use of available financial and human resources. To do this, public employees serve a unique role in society. There is a general consensus that good governance requires good government employees. These employees must ensure that public organizations use their authority without bias. Further, public service must be viewed as a full-time commitment. Public service also entails a commitment to serve society with the utmost vigor, , respect, honesty, expertise, and fortitude to pursue the public interest. In some cases this may present a dilemma to the practitioner. That is, as stewards of the public trust, and as servants to the public welfare, procurement practitioners must consistently pursue their professional standards even at the expense of their personal beliefs.
Justice: Justice is the quality of being just, impartial or fair in how public procurement professionals discharge their responsibilities. Keeping that definition in mind, justice is best served when professionals exercise judgment within established legal frameworks to balance competing interests among all stakeholders and do so with the explicit intent to ensure that decisions and actions are proper, fair and appropriate.
The Task Force looked at statements by 45 countries and organizations around the world to ascertain common public procurement values and principles, and the various concepts were considered against the Pillars to determine the fit within this basic foundation.
The Task Force continued to refine the proposed Values and Guiding Principles subsequent to the December 2009 on site work. On April 29, 2010, under the leadership of NIGP President Paul Brennan, CPPO, CPPB, C.P.M., the NIGP Board of Directors approved the release of the proposed Values and Guiding Principles for public comment and collaboration.
NIGP is the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. Since 1944, developing, supporting and promoting public procurement practitioners through premier educational and research programs, technical services and advocacy initiatives.With over 2,600 member agencies representing over 16,000 professionals across the United States, Canada and countries outside of North America, the Institute is international in its reach.
Our goal is simple (though maybe not so easily attained): recognition and esteem for the government procurement profession and its dedicated practitioners.