A snapshot of OCP’s expansion in the U.S. in 2021
Local and state contract spending in the U.S. is in the trillions each year with only about 57 cents on the dollar going to minority business enterprises (MBEs), and growing with large federal relief programs and investments. And, according to Citymart, “…2019 data show that a mere 0.5 percent of municipal procurement transactions in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States could be classified as innovative and open to new ideas or different ways of doing things.”
The upside: There are a growing number of people dedicated to changes in procurement.
The challenges: Staff constraints, lack of inclusive reform teams focusing on innovative forward-looking change, outside factors such as the supply chain, and limited budgets have all been making it difficult for public procurement to operate at its full potential.
The reality: Procurement reform pays for itself and leads to overall better social outcomes, such as increased cultural diversity and environmental sustainability. We’ve been a part of efforts worldwide that use open contracting as a lever for change and witnessed countries save millions in cost savings.
Some U.S. cities that are beginning to lead the way and that we are working with:
- El Paso, which is implementing national and international best practices for being intentionally inclusive of local, small, minority, women, and/or veteran-owned enterprises in its contracting process. We’re working with them to identify inclusive and innovative practices for its supplier outreach process alongside their official network of six community partners such as the Contract Opportunities Center and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, analyze and improve their data intake and management processes, and rethink the experience and reduce barriers of vendors trying to do business with the city.
- Des Moines, which is supporting sustainability and social equity within their community by opening up access to the city’s public procurement information, reimagining their procurement process, and increasing their emphasis on city goals in their evaluation and performance management. We’re working with them, in partnership with the State of Iowa and local business development organizations, on market research and vendor engagement and experience, creative outreach, and data collection and management.
- Long Beach, which is using procurement at the center of it its local recovery efforts to help its city and local economy build back better. In partnership with their recovery and equity contracting team we are helping them with data management and analysis for better internal decision making and process improvement as well as to communicate with the public with whom and how all spending, but in particular federal recovery dollars, is occurring.
We’ve also supported New Orleans, Kansas City, New York City, Baltimore, Detroit, Minneapolis, Massachusetts, Texas, and Colorado, among others with procurement policy ideas, user experience, data access and management, evaluation and performance based contracting (i.e. holding vendors accountable), and more.
While a lot of what we do is technical assistance, we’re also trying to build a community of like-minded champions, such as academics, civic technologists, civil society, and procurement experts. We’ve hosted and participated in community events; published research, such as A Procurement Path to Equity: Strategies for Government and the Business Ecosystem and guides, such as How cities can become procurement champions: Guidance inspired by Mariupol, Ukraine; and expanded our opportunities to engage online to lift up and connect the voices of our community of reformers.
We’re always looking for new partners, so if you’re looking to make change in your local community and government, get in touch.
Otherwise, give us your feedback on how we’re doing so far and watch out for more on where we’re headed in 2022.