Procurement Ponderable

The goal of Go Pro is to stimulate thought and discussion on significant issues in the profession, to foster collaboration and community, and to encourage creative solutions to common challenges. In that spirit, this issue of Go Pro will present a hypothetical scenario describing a challenge that procurement professionals might face in the course of their careers. The following scenario was created by Stephen B. (Steve) Gordon, PhD, FNIGP, CPPO, who is the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Public Procurement and Contract Management at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. If you feel moved to respond — and we hope that you do — we'll publish your comments in an upcoming issue of Go Pro.

You are the chief procurement officer of a state government in the North Central United States. You have delegated to the administrator of the state's largest line agency, in his official capacity, the authority to make competitive purchases of up to $100,000 in value. As provided for in your written delegation of authority, the administrator has re-delegated to the agency's procurement officer the authority you delegated to him. The agency purchasing officer reports to the agency's chief of staff, who reports to the administrator. The delegation of authority goes around the chief of staff to the purchasing officer.

The first thing you learn when you enter your office on Monday morning is that the line agency's purchasing officer has issued a sole source purchase order to a large technology firm for two million dollars' worth of repairs and upgrades to an obsolete system. A fully up-to-date system would have a price tag somewhere in the one million dollar range and would be far superior to the repaired and upgraded old system.

You confront the agency purchasing officer and tell her that she did not have the authority to issue the sole source purchase for the repairs and upgrades. She responds that she was directed by the agency's chief of staff to place the order.

What are the issues? What action do you take to resolve or at least ameliorate the effects of these issues? What information will you need to do that? What measures could you have taken to preclude the occurrence of the situation now confronting you?

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