NASPO Events & Education Pulse Blog Named after NASPO’s first president, the George Cronin Awards for Procurement Excellence are NASPO’s annual awards for outstanding achievement in state procurement.

These awards provide well-deserved recognition and appreciation for state procurement offices and personnel whose forward thinking and hard work provided significant and direct benefits to their state. Originating in 1977, when past NASPO presidents formed the Cronin Club, the award recognized cost-reduction initiatives among state procurement offices.[1] Over the years, the Cronin Awards have evolved beyond solely recognizing fiscal savings. Submissions are now also scored on innovation, service improvement, and transferability.

The George Cronin Awards for Procurement Excellence are awarded by NASPO under the direction of the Cronin Awards Committee, comprised of 12 members representing state procurement office personnel from all 4 NASPO regions. Committee composition also reflects a wide variety of procurement roles, including CPOs, buyers, contract managers, and others. Also included in the 12 are two NASPO Life and Honorary members. This composition supplies the committee with a broad spectrum of experiences and perspectives. Each year, a new committee is seated to administer the submission and scoring process and determine the awardees. This year’s Committee is chaired by Thor Vue, CPO for the State of Alaska and NASPO Board of Directors member.

The winners of this year’s awards will be announced at the Awards Celebration Dinner during NASPO’s Annual Conference on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. But for now, I would like to introduce you to our finalists, in alphabetical order:
The 2023 Finalists for the George Cronin Awards for Procurement Excellence
Arizona – SPO Library Project
In an effort to provide consistency and improve compliance with the Arizona Procurement Code, Arizona’s State Procurement Office assembled a cross-agency team of experts to develop a determinations library. It is a central repository for forms, templates, and other documents used in the procurement and contract management processes, easily accessible by all state agencies, boards, and commissions. The determination templates and related forms helped to standardize the quality of written procurement determinations while lessening the time and effort required of procurement officials.

Florida – Modernized Quarterly Sales Reporting
Florida’s Division of State Purchasing tracks contract spend by various government entities from over 800 suppliers on 65 active statewide contracts. The procedures for receiving and processing the quarterly sales reports were time-consuming, with manual processes and the potential for errors. In response, the Division of State Purchasing simplified the reporting process and integrated it into their MyFloridaMarketplace Vendor Information Portal. The new process cut the time spent managing quarterly sales reports nearly in half, allowing contract managers to focus more on supplier relationships, compliance, and performance.

Michigan – Lifecycle Supplier Outreach & Relationship Management
Seeking to increase competition, strengthen supplier relationships, promote transparency, and produce better value for the state, Michigan’s Central Procurement Services reinvented its approach to supplier engagement. These improvements include a Vendor Opportunity Dashboard that forecasts future procurements, an automated current contract list, a new social media campaign, a dedicated supplier community outreach team, and a multi-faceted marketing strategy for its MiDEAL statewide purchasing program. To improve relationships with its largest suppliers, a new series of regular review meetings focuses on strategic collaboration to improve service and efficiency for both parties.

Michigan – Professional Development for IT Procurement
To better prepare purchasing officials in the state to comprehend and respond to the growth and evolution of technology in government, Michigan’s Central Procurement Services developed a new training curriculum focused on IT procurement as part of their Achievement in Michigan Procurement certification program. While developing this new training, they created an 80+ page body of knowledge that covers the complexities and risks associated with IT, including network, device, and data security. As IT expands further into everyday products and services, Michigan’s approach views IT procurement as a vital field for modern procurement training and not just a specialization.

Utah – Sustainable Procurement Advancements
Over the past two years, the Utah Division of Purchasing and General Services has been developing a sustainable procurement program from the ground up. The absence of an executive mandate or legislative instruction created a challenge: encouraging participation in a voluntary program. One response was to link it with other procurement initiatives, specifically a “buy local” campaign. The Sustainable Utah initiative demonstrates how sourcing locally is more sustainable. Another approach was to make participation easy. Recognition of third-party certification for sustainable products and services saves time and resources for purchasers. Partnership with Amazon provided benchmarks and progress tracking for the sustainability of small purchases.


The Value of the Cronin Awards
Each procurement project submitted for the Cronin Awards represents an opportunity for others to learn from another’s experience. These projects are teaching tools for the entire profession and contribute to the public procurement body of knowledge. The awards process calls attention to procurement projects and initiatives that have made an impact while also disseminating new practices and lessons learned. Sharing a state’s success encourages others to adopt a similar approach. Success stories from these projects can be the first step toward identifying best practices for procurement offices nationwide.
NASPO uses submitted projects as practical examples in various educational and informative products, such as Procurement U courses, publications, live training events, and NASPO’s Practical Guide reference textbook. Having limited procurement experience prior to joining NASPO’s staff, my time working with the Cronin Awards process and reading the project submissions has dramatically expanded my knowledge and understanding of the complexities of public procurement.

While honoring the tremendous work of our members, the Cronin Awards furthers NASPO’s mission to promote government excellence by delivering superior procurement solutions for the benefit of the public and to elevate public procurement as a profession. Submitting a project for the Cronin Awards is an opportunity to improve the whole of public procurement and multiply your project’s benefits nationwide.

To learn more about the George Cronin Awards for Procurement Excellence, its evaluation criteria, and past winners, visit the Awards page at www.NASPO.org.