It is a common scenario in state government procurement: A change-oriented governor and his staff hire a high-paid consulting firm to help implement strategic sourcing. After a year or so, the state is left to try to maintain its sourcing momentum on its own. However, the state of Georgia has proven it is more than capable of leading world-class procurements long after its consultants left Atlanta.

Georgia's experience with strategic sourcing began in 2004 when Governor Sonny Perdue brought in 300 top-level executives from the private sector — including the senior management of blue-chip companies like AFLAC, Southern Company, Wachovia, General Electric and Coca-Cola — to create the "Commission for a New Georgia." The key question the Governor was looking to the commission to help him answer was, "How can we manage our state more like an efficient business?" says Terry Doumkos, director of strategic sourcing at the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS). "Governor Perdue wanted the state to be a leader and not the laggard in how state government is managed."

One of the commission's primary recommendations was the critical need to upgrade the skills and experience of the state's top levels of management. In the area of procurement, the first key move was the hiring of Brad Douglas as the commissioner of DOAS. Douglas had been vice president at one of the largest and most successful lodging franchisors in the world, Choice Hotels International, and now assumed responsibility for transforming state procurement, in addition to more than a half-dozen additional functions of government.

To guide the transformation effort, Douglas hired Tim Gibney — the well-respected assistant vice president at Notre Dame, who previously held procurement leadership positions at two other universities, an electric utility and a consulting practice with a focus on procurement — as the assistant commissioner of DOAS. Gibney, in turn, hired Doumkos, a veteran private-sector procurement executive who honed his skills at senior levels in Microsoft's and Dell's supply chain organizations, among others.

The infusion of talent continued through all levels of state procurement, bringing seasoned and innovative procurement professionals into DOAS, helping Douglas, Gibney and Doumkos achieve the high standards that Governor Perdue set for them. Among those new team members was Lt. Colonel (retired) Darryl Mitchell, whose career included more than 20 years in the Air Force and, like Douglas, Gibney and Doumkos, a stint in the private sector at an engineering company. It was Mitchell who led the facility maintenance procurement on a day-to-day basis.

Read the main story, "Georgia's progressive procurement".