NASPO Events & Education Pulse Blog In February, NASPO held its annual Contract Leads Conference (CLC) in San Antonio, Texas. This conference is designed for NASPO ValuePoint’s Contract Leads to explore their partnerships with their Cooperative Portfolio Managers (CPMs) and gain insights into best practices and trends in public procurement. This year’s conference took things one step further and explored the importance of innovation in procurement and how simple ideas can lead to great changes.

This conference was an opportunity for NASPO ValuePoint’s (NVP) new Chief Cooperative Procurement Officer, Jaime Schorr (former CPO from the State of Maine), to take center stage and bring everyone up to speed on her goals in her new position, primarily focusing on the importance of innovation and collaboration in public procurement.

Ask, Think, Do… Inspiration for Innovation
NVP’s vision is to be a leader in cooperative procurements by focusing on the key initiatives of:

Supplier Engagement
Customer Service

During the conference, speaker Jeff Havens taught conference-goers to “Unleash Your Inner Innovator” by learning a three-step process to make innovation easy. By asking questions, you have the opportunity to identify a problem that needs to be solved. Then, think about possible solutions, and finally, do whatever it was that you thought of. This simplified interpretation of more elaborate innovation methods was a great way to reframe who is allowed to innovate and remind us to look for ways to innovate the processes that are already part of our lives.
On the Horizon
In the spirit of innovation, Jaime and her team unveiled their goal of completing a solicitation in 105 days. The goal places importance on leveraging knowledge and expertise to become faster, better, and more efficient in the solicitation process, wherein the ideal solicitation should span 105 days from the first draft to contract execution.

Other things to expect in 2023 include the following:

Continued use and implementation of NASPO Forms and Templates;
Push to accelerate NVP solicitation timelines through innovative means;
Push to remove unnecessary hurdles/delays in the procurement process; and
Additional support to State Leads during the procurement and contract administration process.

To help support the Contract Leads in each state, NVP is making changes to staff structure and instituting a “White Glove Service” to help leads meet the goal of 105 days. The additional support offered by CPMs will include resources, contracts, and contract administration. Other changes include NVP assigning at least two CPMs to each contract portfolio.

During the Pulse Podcast, where Jaime was recently a guest, she stated that with this new white glove service mentality at NVP, “we ensure that if you are a public entity, you have the research available at your fingertips, you have top quality contracts available at your fingertips, we have suppliers that are engaged from the beginning of a solicitation right through to the end through contract administration … and our team … is there to assist throughout the process.”

As you can imagine, such a significant goal shift took a little getting used to for the Contract Leads. One hundred and five days is a tight timeline when solicitations can take up to two years or longer, but that long timeline can be detrimental to the overall outcome. Extended solicitations can make a procurement office less agile, make suppliers less engaged, and ultimately waste taxpayer money.
Will this Timeframe Work for My Solicitation?
Jaime elaborated on the initial hesitations that some may have when approaching a solicitation with this timeline in mind:

“Not every solicitation can be done in 105 days. There are some levels of complexity and some parts of the process that will be out of our control. But as a general rule, we will go into every competitive solicitation with an understanding that this is the general expectation for the timeline. And then, if there are parts in the process that alter the 105 days, that’s ok. But we all have expectations from the supplier side, the public entity side, and the cooperative purchasing side of what that timeline should ultimately be.”[i]

Throughout the conference, the solicitation process was broken down into five phases, and the outline of NVP and Lead State duties was included in each phase’s overview. By viewing the solicitation process through this lens, the uniformity of the process is streamlined, the workload reduced with increased member support from NVP, and increased collaboration paves the way for many successful 105-day solicitations.
New Faces
Jaime isn’t the only new face at NVP. Several new additions have appeared on the team in the last year. The most recent additions are CPMs Abbi Chittenden and Nick Hughes and Solomon Kingston as NVP’s Deputy CCPO over NVP. This experienced team, with NVP’s support and insight, can help state leads efficiently achieve their goals and innovate the solicitation process.

Abbi Chittenden, Nick Hughes, and Solomon Kingston
To hear more about this innovative endeavor, check out the NASPO Pulse Podcast “Knowledge in Numbers: Completing a Solicitation in 105 Days!”

To learn more about NVP’s Cooperative Contracts, visit https://www.naspovaluepoint.org/cooperative-contracts/

[i] “Knowledge in Numbers. Completing a Solicitation in 105 Days,” NASPO, February 21, 2023, NASPO Pulse: Knowledge in Numbers: Completing a Solicitation in 105 days. Jaime Schorr, Chief Cooperative Procurement Officer, NASPO on Apple Podcasts.