Throughout the month of March, NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement is showcasing the work that public procurement professionals do. NIGP urged its members, “This is the perfect time to help educate elected officials, administrators, taxpayers and suppliers on the significant job you, the public procurement professional, perform every single day.” NIGP is also staging a contest tied in with the month-long celebration.

Several procurement professionals gave GPN their views on public procurement and the importance of training and professional associations.

Gregory Spearman, director of purchasing in Tampa Fla., outlined a few ways that government purchasing officials can participate in the profession:

--Achieving professional public purchasing certification (as a CPPB of CPPO) indicates that an individual has mastered a body of knowledge and has the requisite skills and abilities to perform the job with confidence and competency so that taxpayer dollars are being spent at the maximum/highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Individuals who achieve certification generally have a higher performance level and are required to adhere to a higher standard of conduct.

--Participation in local chapter meetings as well as attendance at the NIGP National Forum provides public purchasers critical training and exposure to new strategies and best practices shared by their peers that can be used back home in their respective agencies. Attending the National Forum is also an opportunity to dialogue with fellow public purchasers on techniques and strategies to overcome challenges a public purchaser may be facing at the local level.

--Achieving professional certification is a not a one time thing, but rather represents the beginning of a life-long journey to constantly engage in applying new ideas and techniques through independent study, peer groups, discussions and research which are also necessary to stay abreast of industry trends and best practices that drives the recertification process.

In a manner similar to other professionals such as CPAs, dentists, physicians, engineers and computer software application and network specialists, continuing education is a must to remain on the "cutting edge" of the public purchasing profession.

Denise K. Finn, associate director of purchasing at the University of Kentucky (phto below, at right), speaks highly of her professional association memberships:

-- I am active in both NIGP and the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP), and feel that both organizations have assisted me in my career. They offer everything from online and in-class training to networking with other procurement professionals.

--I have earned certifications from both the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), and I also believe that those are beneficial not only to me but to my entity because of the knowledge that must be shown to achieve them. Does this mean that everyone that is certified will always achieve the best value for their organization? No, there are many other factors involved, but both education and certification are tools that can be used to assist in the procurement process.

Finn offers this conclusion: “I believe that professional association membership does help in public procurement training if you take advantage of what is offered; there is a difference between being a member and being an active member.“

In the video, Don Buffum talks about the importance of the procurement profession and Procurement Month. Buffum is 2014-2015 president of the NIGP Board of Directors.


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