Through 2023, the number of purchasing managers employed in governments will shrink, predicts Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI). In 2017, governments employed 8,907 purchasing managers. Federal agencies employed 6,216. Local governments, excluding education and hospitals, employed 1,776 purchasing managers and state governments, excluding education and hospitals, employed 915 purchasing managers.

In 2023, total government employment of purchasing managers will be 8,596, a reduction of 311, or 3.49 percent, from 2017 levels. Federal agencies will employ 5,917 in 2023. Local governments, excluding education and hospitals, will employ 1,760 purchasing managers and state governments, excluding education and hospitals, will employ 919 purchasing managers.

On the whole, though, the purchasing manager workforce in the U.S. is expanding, EMSI says. The total number of purchasing managers in the U.S. (public and private) will rise from 75,465 in 2017 to 78,453 in 2023, an increase of 2,988, or about 4 percent. 

EMSI is a Moscow, Idaho-based labor market data research firm that uses data from all state labor departments as well as federal agencies in its calculations. The firm compiles employment and economic data from over 90 data sources. Go here for more information on the sources.

Cara Christopher, EMSI's marketing director-economic and workforce development, confirms federal, state, and local government agencies will be employing fewer procurement managers over the next five years, even as overall employment in that profession will increase over that time.

The statistics show a smaller share of workers in this occupation will be employed in the public sector, Christopher says.   She also says the projected five-year decline in government purchasing manager jobs stems from a minor decline in overall federal government employment. "However, we don’t know the underlying reasons for this projected decline," Christopher says.

Harold (Hal) Good, says public agencies are on the lookout for more management talent. Good, who has over 30 years of experience in public and private procurement, e-commerce and supply chain management, formerly served as director of procurement and contracting in Frederick County Md., and Palm Springs, Calif.

Good says management recruiting was a hot topic at the recent ProcureCon Indirect East conference. . "One of the discussions was, where are you getting your new procurement administrators from? There is a shortage." Good says several sessions at the conference identified the kinds of management talent that agencies need. "Large purchasing organizations are seeking directors who are multi-disciplined, are flexible and are good negotiators. The directors need to be able to work well with other administrators, and be able to work collaboratively."

Good says speakers at the conference said it's important that silos be broken down within organizations and that procurement directors have the skills to be able to work with staffers trained in a multitude of disciplines.

Good continues to support the public procurement profession. He has served on NIGP’s national board and has been a member of NIGP throughout his career. He directs social media for the Pennsylvania chapter of NIGP, the Pennsylvania Public Purchasing Association (PAPPA). Good owns the Procurement Pros group on LinkedIn. The by-invitation-only group has 2,524 members.

Cooperative purchasing can play a role in lean public agencies, says Roseanne Spagnuolo, executive advisor, content and advisory lead at Procurement Leaders Ltd. "Cooperative agreements between government entities can be complex and span multiple relationships within disparate and varied organizations. They are difficult to implement and maintain. However, the benefits of leveraging greater spend to market can create efficiencies for all participants as well as a more streamlined purchasing process overall."

Spagnuolo cautions that cooperative buys may require that personnel have additional skills. "Centralizing spend often signifies more of a shift in skillsets than headcount. Consolidating contracts into larger categories through such cooperative arrangements will demand greater competencies (mostly in terms of business acumen, stakeholder management skills, etc.)."

Spagnuolo adds that the benefits from these kinds of initiatives are often broader in output than traditional and smaller deals. "With larger contracts you can exert more influence over the supplier and look to create a wider set of deliverables, such as greater visibility, reduced risk or even supplier innovation."

Procurement Leaders Ltd. leverages its network of 27,000+ senior procurement professionals to support high-performing next-generation talent.


Michael Keating is senior editor for American City & County and the GPN web site. Contact:



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