They can do more than just buy pencils! County procurement officers from across the State gathered at the MACo Winter Conference to deliver the session, Buying Into Your Buyers: How to Save Money, Stay Out of Trouble, and Keep Your Procurement Officer Happy, on Wednesday, December 6.
Cherri Branson, Director of the Montgomery County
Office of Procurement emphasized the importance of pre-purchase planning, and how planning ahead, with your buyer in the mix early and often, can save your county time and money. She also discussed how purchasing decisions can further other goals, such as the encouraging growth of small businesses, and minority-, women- and disabled-owned businesses.
Nicholas Rice, Purchasing Agent for Wicomico County discussed the pros and cons of local preferences in public procurement. A local preference is a bid preference which may be given to suppliers doing business within a purchasing jurisdiction. It can help keep money within a county – but it can also increase project costs, limit competition, and fail to meet the intended goal, if not implemented appropriately.
Erin Sher Smyth, City Purchasing Agent, Baltimore City spoke about how to engage with your procurement office. The complicated web of public purchasing often leaves many dazed, confused, and baffled by why procurement officers seem like they are always saying “no.” However, “no” probably means you are trying to circumvent the law, or asking to do something you are not authorized to do. Getting to know your procurement officers, and engaging them early and often, can shorten your project timeline, save you money, and keep you out of trouble.
The session was moderated by the Honorable Laura Price, Talbot County Council Member.