April 11, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Any business or organization of substantial size is going to need to procure some amount of goods or services. On the surface, this may appear to be a simple process – locate what you need, arrange the payment, receive the goods, and document it. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Like almost all business functions, there are numerous stages in the process and things are always evolving on the fly. So there needs to be some sort of structure to keep that whole process organized. Generally speaking there is some form of a procurement system, with policies and procedures in place, and among the key players are procurement officers. The U.S. Government is no exception, and at the heart of the system are the Federal procurement officers who hold it all together.
The federal government’s procurement operation is huge, and involves a wide range of goods and services. Roughly one out of every six dollars of federal spending goes to government contractors, so the system needs to be managed carefully and wisely to avoid waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Federal procurement officers carry a lot of the responsibility in this area. Their duties include identifying the needs, reviewing the requisitions for purchases, awarding the contracts, and making sure that the contractors perform as agreed in the delivery of the goods or services. Here are some of the ways in which procurement officers in the federal government oversee and manage the process.
It doesn’t really need to be said that the U.S. Government is a huge organization which makes an enormous amount of purchases. Without proper oversight, the process could become completely chaotic. Federal procurement officers are responsible for ensuring that the purchase orders are consistent with the needs of the departments placing the orders. For example, the quantities of products ordered should be consistent with the volume that they actually need. The procurement officer will review previous purchase orders to establish the level of products actually used in a given time frame.
When a department want to procure good or services, the procurement officer will solicit proposals from suppliers who will submit bids which include their pricing structure. If all other factors are the same, typically the contract will be awarded to the bidder with the most competitive pricing. The federal procurement officer will enter into discussions with the suppliers to negotiate the best possible price, and is also responsible for monitoring the delivery of the products to ensure that the supplier’s performance on the contract is as promised – on time, and within budget.
One of the main duties of any procurement officer to is make sure that the whole process follows all required procedures and regulations. In the case of the federal government, everything needs to comply with the Federal Procurement Policy Act. In order to do so, procurement officers need to not only review every requisition and contract for any possible deviations from requirements, but also need to stay constantly on top of changes in legislation which affect the process.