The Power to Procure: A Look inside the City of Austin Procurement Program
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Purpose: Procurement is an integral part of any organization, including public agencies. Government procurement is a highly complex and highly political issue nationwide. While contracting occurs at every level of government, municipalities appear to be in the forefront of the “contracting-out” movement. Contracting-out has both positive and negative consequences; however, there are certain characteristics required in order to administer an efficient, productive, and responsive governmental procurement program. This applied research project assesses the City of Austin’s procurement process and programs based on a practical ideal type framework developed through a literature review. A review of literature pertaining to government procurement and contracting programs reveals eight necessary elements of quality and successful programs: ethics, accountability, transparency, competitiveness; complexity, equity, quality, and monitoring and oversight. Method: Using the City as a case study, the eight categories are used to evaluate the City of Austin procurement program. The data collection methodology for this study includes document analysis and structured interviews. Results. The results of the case study reveal that quality measurement and the monitoring and oversight functions do not meet the established criteria of the practical ideal type model. The City exceeds in areas of having established written processes and procedures that address the majority of the practical ideal type categories. Conclusion: Recommendations for improving the City of Austin’s current procurement program are also identified in the areas of quality and monitoring and oversight.