The 2011 NIGP Forum and Products Exposition takes place at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., near Washington, from Aug. 25-29. The host of the event is the Herndon, Va.-based National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP).

More than 800 public procurement professionals from federal, provincial, state and local government agencies in the U.S. and Canada will come together to network with colleagues and learn from industry leaders and speakers. The theme of this year's conference, NIGP's 66th, is "Capitalize on Excellence."

The 2011 Forum offers events designed to empower procurement professionals to meet the public’s expectations with reduced staff and budgets. Four days of training, networking activities and knowledge sharing will equip procurement professionals to make a difference through decisive, effective purchasing programs.

Suppliers will showcase a variety of products and services that government agencies require to meet critical needs, including:
Office furniture/equipment
, Procurement solutions, Construction equipment, Recreation facilities/materials, Building materials, Bidding software, Computer hardware/software, Finance solutions, Training programs/services, Automotive sales/services, Disaster relief/recovery, Security solutions
, Communications, and Maintenance

Keynote speakers

Commander Kirk Lippold, U.S. Navy (retired) delivers the opening keynote address on Friday, August 26. The topic: “Leadership and Accountability: When It Matters.” Commander Lippold was the officer in charge of the USS Cole when it came under a suicide attack by al Qaeda in the port of Aden, Yemen. During his time as skipper, Lippold and his crew distinguished themselves by saving the ship from sinking. Lippold’s experiences have given thousands of military officers and civilians insight into integrity and leadership. In his address, Commander Lippold will recount the Cole story; expand on how leaders must act in the now, yet plan ahead; and help attendees understand how organizations can cope with complex environments while operating under adverse conditions.

At a Forum Plenary Session on Saturday, two respected news writers offer a joint keynote speech, “Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America.” USA Today columnist Bob Beckel and New York Daily News columnist Andrea Tantaros take on the contentious issues that divide the nation along partisan lines, seeking common ground that can end the stalemate in Washington. They emphasize bipartisan cooperation and a commitment to ending cross-aisle political conflict. Although the columnists have different opinions on almost every subject, the goal of Common Ground is to show the audience and Americans that bridges can be forged between differences, and agreements can be reached.

The Monday, August 29 keynote speaker will be Aron Ralston, a mountain climber and inspiration for the movie “127 Hours.” The topic: “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” Ralston will inspire the NIGP Forum audience with the story of his rescue from a remote Utah canyon, which was the inspiration of his best-selling memoir, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” An ordinary man pushed to the limits, Ralston demonstrates the human capacity for the extraordinary. He takes his audience on a riveting journey in which courage and perseverance defy the inevitable outcome.

Also on Monday, the Plenary Session speaker will be Martha Johnson, administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The topic: “Supporting the Business of Government: GSA's Strategy, Vision, and Priorities.” In her keynote address, Johnson will highlight the work that the agency is doing to support the business of government at all levels. GSA's work is both broad and deep, reaching across industries and technologies, and linking agencies to sustainable and efficient solutions of tomorrow.

Attendees will choose from more than 70 workshops and networking sessions at the 2011 Forum. Here are titles of a few of the thought-provoking sessions:

Friday, August 26
“Developing and Implementing a Sustainable Purchasing Program”
“Maximizing Growth of Your Purchasing Card Program to Optimize Success”
“Software Acquisitions and Licensing: Bits, Bites and Stomach Aches”
“The New Procurement/Contracting Role of the Future”
“U.S. Communities — Discovering the Difference”
“Cooperative Purchasing: Is it Good for Business or Good for Government?”

Saturday, August 27
"Three Key Principles to Successful Outsourcing Agreements"
"Utilities: With Gas Prices Going Up, How Am I Supposed to Save Money on Energy?"

Sunday, August 28
"Federal Grant Rules — A Procurement Primer"
"Sweating the Small Stuff: Construction Projects under $50,000"

Monday, August 29
"Best Practices in Contract Monitoring and Performance Management"
"Social Media Exposed"
"The Debate of the Decade: Local Preference vs. Best Value"

Here’s a source for 2011 NIGP Forum information.