Texas Comptroller’s Office Highlighted in Pandemic Procurement Conference
(AUSTIN) — The Texas Comptroller’s Statewide Procurement Division (SPD) was highlighted for its COVID-19 pandemic response during the recent National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) annual conference.
The conference, held in September, showcased the responses of a dozen states to the pandemic and the work their procurement offices did to meet the needs of their citizens.
“Procurement is complex in the best of times," Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. "We must develop fair and open solicitations and conduct vendor meetings and negotiations while following specific statutes and rules as well as agency-specific procedures. We must ensure compliance and transparency throughout the entire process. Throw in a pandemic, shelter-in-place directives and the need to completely overhaul our processes in response to these circumstances, and one can see how procurement could easily turn into chaos. But I’m delighted to say that our SPD staff met this pandemic head-on with little or no impact on the client agencies we serve daily.”
As it does in other state disasters, SPD provided assistance to the Texas Division of Emergency Management in procuring necessary goods and services to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Unlike typical events such as flooding and hurricanes, however, the division was thrust into procuring goods and services with which it had no prior experience, said Bobby Pounds, SPD director.
“We’re used to buying fuel, evacuation buses, portable toilets and other items needed to respond to natural disasters common to Texas," Pounds said. "COVID-19 required us to buy things we had never historically purchased, with the added challenge of making these purchases in a telework environment. In a matter of weeks, we not only transitioned to a full-time telework environment, but we also restructured our entire procurement, procurement-approval and contract-management processes to ensure there was little or no interruption in normal services to our customers.”
SPD is Texas state government’s central procurement office for non-information technology commodities and services. SPD also functions as a procurement oversight agency, offering technical assistance and training to more than 200 agencies and certifying more than 5,000 procurement and contracting professionals statewide. A tribute video highlighting the pandemic effort of each of the state procurement offices that was honored is available on the NASPO website.