When it comes to politics and policy, money matters. In an overwhelming majority of national governance systems, money is power — how and where money is spent all results in tangible or negligible outcomes.
Citizens around the world are all too aware of the central role of money in government during elections and in lobbyists’ ability to influence policy, but what about the far more mundane ways money is used in government daily — to buy the goods and services that bring policy from the paper to the pavement.
In this post, we explore the importance of government procurement and its effect on policy implementation. We offer this to highlight why the first product in our software ecosystem, MICRO™, is a procurement solution, and how improving procurement will help governments transform into high-performing entities.
Society relies on government to draft and implement policy that results in access to timely, affordable, quality public services. After policymakers craft a policy, and it gets approved, they hand it over to a separate department or jurisdiction for implementation. Policies are full of timetables, public hearings and requirements. Many policies require the department in charge to spend X% of their budget with suppliers and contractors that meet special categorizations (e.g. women-owned, majority minority-owned, local, LEED-certified, etc). Additionally, policies require that X% of the budget is spent by specific dates to ensure the implementation is on schedule.
The agency responsible for managing the implementation and the associated budget must adhere to the policy requirements and timelines or face penalties and irate citizens at public hearing.
Most times, the government agencies in charge of implementation do an incredible job of translating policy into action, yet their ability to make great decisions, beat deadlines and “show their work” is impeded by overly complicated processes, especially procurement ones.
Governments are the biggest purchasers in the world, spending over 15% of their countries’ GDPs in public expenditures. Still, they have outdated, complex and slow procurement procedures that require manual implementation by a highly-specialized workforce. When government agencies are handed policies to implement, many times they are racing against the clock. Think of the various natural disasters government agencies are tasked with managing aide response. If it takes a week to complete a purchase order of tents, water, MREs or gas stoves, that is one week that survivors of a natural disaster go without vital supplies needed for survival.
Policy implementation relies on procurement processes, and currently, government procurement processes are overly complicated. The slow purchasing and decision-making processes result in even the simplest of policy implementations being delayed while taxpayer’s’ ability to see how their dollars are spent remain opaque.
Successful policy implementation depends heavily on government’s’ ability to get all the resources needed for timely implementation, analysis of the quality and variety of resources available, the sorting and vetting of available resources, and the final selection of what we call “public best value” on behalf of taxpayers. Needless to say, it is a daunting task.
We continue asking ourselves: Is there a better way?
At Social Glass, we are developing a software ecosystem, a family of integrated tools to simplify governments’ processes and support them in operating more efficiently, transparently and responsively. We believe that simple fixes to outdated processes will result in major improvements to policy implementation, and we are starting with public procurement.
Why start with public procurement? Because governments are the biggest decision-makers in the world, and through their purchases, determine the way we live and thrive.
The most powerful way in which they make decisions is by allocating public money behind the things they want to see implemented. That is the precise definition of public procurement — a $12 trillion industry that we aim to shake up.
Our first product, MICRO™, is a global e-commerce marketplace for fully compliant, fast, and paperless government micro-purchases (e.g. office supplies, quick professional services, emergency items), where government agencies can buy, contract or rent products and services from verified businesses as easy as the rest of society purchases goods online.
Streamlining, tracking and simplifying the procurement process will increase small and medium sized businesses’ ability to sell to government; will support public employees in making the right purchasing decision, every single time; and will increase taxpayer’s accountability over how their money gets put to work.
MICRO™ increases public worker’s ability to make fast, accurate, traceable transactions and translate policy into impact. If you are interested in learning more about MICRO™, and are a California-based government agency or supplier interested in participating in our pilot program, let’s talk!
Try MICRO™ at http://social.glass/micro.
By creating a software ecosystem, designed for public workers, we can help governments better serve society. Great governance is within reach. Social Glass is taking us there.