The Values and Guiding Principles of Public Procurement are a critical step toward standardizing principled procurement practices across governments. These values and principles are championed by NIGP, The Institute for Public Procurement, and supported by more than 80 non-profit associations, government agencies and NIGP's National Business Council.

The broad variety of purchasing requirements, bid thresholds and statutory imperatives across product types requires an attention to process detail that impedes transactional efficiencies, both for government contracting agents and for government suppliers. The greater the detail and the more variance in process, the greater potential for error that can impact cost, service, exposure to protest, or missed opportunities for both parties.

Further, for interested members of the public trying to understand the mechanics of government and how their tax dollars are spent, inconsistency in process and practice spurs doubt that their government is correctly expending public funds. Without a stable benchmarking reference, how is one to judge performance?

Those who interact with procurement professionals as part of their daily lives — elected officials, employees from other departments, the public — may not understand why things are done in a particular way. Articulating these principles helps to promote better understanding of why, for example, transparent, impartial and competitive protective processes must all be manifest in a contracting event.

“These are values that we all employ every day,” said Marcheta Gillespie, deputy director for the Tucson, Ariz., Department of Procurement and an NIGP board member. “We're responsible for protecting the public's trust, and serving the public. These guiding principles help us do that.”

“The guidelines will also help other professionals gain a better understanding of procurement, which will [also improve internal processes,]” according to Tom Sadowski of the Association of Government Accountants.

Accountability, ethics, impartiality, professionalism, transparency and service are the central components of good government. These values resonate and set clear expectations for interactions with procurement for public servants, government suppliers and engaged citizens.

As the Values, Guiding Principles and, more importantly, the Standard Practices continue to be recognized, adopted and reflected regularly in agency practices, consistency of experience will lead to improved procurement engagements. Ultimately, that means lower costs of doing business with government and stronger public trust.

Government employees and the general public are invited to participate in the development of new or refined government procurement standards. Please share observations and thoughts in the Comments section at principlesandpractices.org.

A Guiding Beacon

  • Accountability, ethics, impartiality, professionalism, service and transparency are the values for public procurement.
  • The values and guiding principles help agencies determine the propriety of their procedures and serve as guidelines to govern actions.
  • In practice, the guidelines demonstrate the agency's responsible use of public funds, which helps preserve the public's trust.

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