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2021 Open Contracting Champion: Nia Richardson

What does changing the status quo in public procurement mean to you?  

Changing the status quo means that we as cities are doing more to leverage our buying power via procurement, growing small businesses and helping to close the racial wealth gaps in our communities.

COVID-19 showed us more than ever that the status quo isn’t working. What’s the #1 procurement lesson you’ve learned over the past year of the pandemic? 

Our small businesses need contract and capital readiness back office support to ensure they can successfully bid on and win any public (or private) contract. Mostly through legal and accounting to ensure they are properly bidding the right amounts and have their books ready to access capital to be able to perform the work successfully.

What is the #1 question you would ask before trying to reform a public procurement system?

Is our current procurement system (process), equitable and open to all businesses to be successful or are we heavily dependent on affirmative action programs, like certifications, because we have not improved or created an equitable and open system, starting with- How does a business find out about our contract opportunities? Is it in one place or more than one place and why. Let’s start here.

What is one thing you would say to an open contracting reformer who wants to break with tradition?

If you are a reformer inside the city or organization who wants to change the system– buckle up and keep your boxing gloves close because it’s a bumpy ride, and you are up for a major fight—mostly with your peers. Be ready for internal resistance more than external.

If public procurement was a sport, which one do you think it would be and why?

Soccer—the way most procurement works around the country, cities are just kicking our small businesses around until they hopefully reach the goal (contract) on the other side of the field.

Find Nia on LinkedIn.

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