BY FRED S. NISHIHIRA

Seventy-four days is the average amount of time it takes to usher through a simple purchase for the Government of Guam. 

Fred Nishihira

Procurement is one of the most frustrating government processes for government agencies and vendors alike. The mundane task of buying a pen takes more than 30 steps and nine signatures, and that’s after funds have been appropriated and accounts established. A more complex task of procuring professional services from accounting firms or engineers involves working with teams of people and usually takes months to complete. The more complex the procurement — or poor planning at the front end — the more likely the increase of errors. Errors in the procurement process cause increases in cost and delays in receiving services. 

Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson developed a five-part practical procurement training specifically designed for the procurement of professional services (request for proposals). The training targets government employees who are directly involved in the procurement process. The goal is to provide government agencies with the tools necessary to successfully navigate through the procurement rules and regulations. Some of the tools introduced in the training sessions are forms, checklists and standardized record binders. The training is presented in five courses: 

  1. PP101: Planning the procurement 
  2. PP102: Maintaining the record 
  3. PP103: The request for proposals and soliciting proposals 
  4. PP104: Proposal evaluation, contract negotiation and award 
  5. PP105: Protests and cancellation 

So far, the Procurement 101 course has been conducted three times, with one more planned for November. Thus far, 21 agencies and 68 government employees have participated in Procurement 101. The first course, entitled PP101: Planning the Procurement, covers the planning phase of a RFP and is arguably the most important of all the steps when undertaking an RFP. The better prepared an agency is in the beginning of the RFP process, the better off the subsequent phases of procurement will be. Procurement 102 will follow soon beginning in late November. The goal is to ensure government employees are trained in preparing RFPs to obtain the professional services their agencies need. 

Each course is conducted by an attorney skilled in procurement law. Participants are given examples and cases, and are encouraged to asked questions. By the end of the fiscal year, it is the intent of the attorney general to film theses training sessions to create a resource bank for government employees new to the procurement process. 

In addition to the procurement training sessions, the attorney general will be offering training in Open Government Laws, Freedom of Information Laws, Adverse Actions and Grievances. By offering training to government employees, our office is contributing to building capacity, increasing efficiency and decreasing delays.

 

— Deputy Attorney General Fred S. Nishihira is the Consumer Counsel for the Office of the Attorney General of Guam, and has been a government of Guam procurement practitioner for more than 20 years. He can be contacted through Carlina Charfauros at [email protected]