Applying BPM Principles to Restructure the Government Procurement Process

Registration is free. Login or register to view/download this content.


Business Relationship Manager - Product Lifecycle Management, Chevron Corporation

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Niccolo Machiavelli

In contrast to the private sector, the success or failure of government does not rise or fall based on the price of its publicly traded securities, earnings per share or the opportunity to acquire or be acquired.  These “touch points” in the private sector are virtually non-existent in the public sector.  In stark contrast job classifications, promotions and compensation are not determined by sales volume, hard/soft savings or innovation, but through a civil service system, primarily aimed at discouraging political patronage and massive “turn-over” during each election cycle.  Therefore “endurance” in a particular position is rewarded and incremental change is the mantra, for fear of “making waves” is avoided as there is no discernable personal benefit.

Most public sector employees entered the sector because they are primarily committed to “helping people.” (i.e. benefits for low income families, children’s services, primary healthcare, the environment, etc.) and many are only concerned about the cost of such services to the extent it affects the speed by which or the number of people they can help. It is important to understand these fundamental differences between government and the private sector before embarking on the change management involved through a systematic review of government business processes. A grasp of some key change management principals is critical for anyone to have a reasonable expectation of successfully implementing changes to make government process more effective and efficient.

A. STATE PROCUREMENT Although almost two billion dollars of goods and services are procured annually, the state procurement process in Rhode Island had not undergone a systemic review in more than seventeen (17) years.  While the procurement statutes are based on the Model Procurement Code- adopted in more than thirty-five (35) states -uniform processes and procedures ended there.   Rhode Island, along with most other states, developed the day-to-day business processes to address the local political and regulatory environment.

The rationale for a centralized government procurement system is threefold:

(1) to provide for fair and open competition for procurements using public funds;(2) to standardize procedures statewide for efficient cost effective procurement; and (3) to enforce the purchasing statute and ethical requirements.

Unfortunately, over the years these tenets were not given equal weight.

Over time, because of a variety of change drivers, the enforcement of the procurement law became the most dominant piece to the detriment of all others.  As a result steps were added to the procurement process without any systemic evaluation of the process.  The result of this “band-aid” approach was that any perceived breach of the spirit or intent of the procurement statutes and rules were addressed in broad brush by adding steps to the process.  As a result the process became so convoluted that it affected the other tenets of the system.   Fair and open competition was compromised and the ability to achieve cost-effective procurements was put at risk.  Vendors who knew how to manipulate this increasingly complex system would benefit to the detriment of those who did not, regardless of the price or quality of their services.  A small incumbent group of vendors often had an unfair advantage.  In effect, the state’s attempts to enforce the ethics rules often had the opposite results from those intended.  Over the years fewer vendors participated in the competitive bidding process which resulted in increased costs for goods and services.


In order to begin to address these issues, a team of state employees was assigned to lead the project as part of the Governor’s Fiscal Fitness Program.  The Governor’s Fiscal Fitness Program was established in 2003, made up of a team of sixty (60) state employees with the charge to identify and implement ideas that would make government more effective and efficient.  During the initial stages of the Fiscal Fitness Program state procurement was identified as a prime candidate for improvement.  Over a period of several months the Fiscal Fitness team mapped procurement process, interviewed employees of the Division of Purchases, conducted best practice research at other governmental entities, hired an outside strategic sourcing consultant and engaged end users of procurement services to get very candid input.

The primary findings of the team were: (1) the procurement process had numerous steps that did not add any value; (2) the multi-step bureaucratic process was not providing for proper enforcement oversight of the procurement process; (3) the state was not effectively leveraging its purchases by achieving economies of scale; (4) Many inefficient procurement decisions were made by user agencies to avoid the centralized procurement process; (5) there were no metrics or performance standards; and (6) the procurement system was largely paper based.

Prior to implementing various recommendations for improvement, several change management issues had to be addressed.  Several of the more important change management issues are addressed below.


Once the findings were identified, and recommendations made, change management issues immediately emerged.  How do you engage the experts, the procurement professionals, as part of the restructuring process without making them feel as though they failed over the years?  Addressing the key stakeholder’s feelings is critical, because if you do not get over this “hump” and get the necessary input from these professionals your project will fail.   In this case the answer was rather straightforward.  The procurement professional spends day in and day out buying over two billion dollars of goods and services each year.  There are complicated proposals to be drafted, responses to be evaluated and contracts to manage.  The team was so heads down in day-to-day work that they could not address the overall process design issues.  Without a dedicated team such as the Fiscal Fitness program there is not the time or ability of one procurement professional to change the system.  This was an extraordinary opportunity to change the system for the better and it would improve everyone’s job situation.


As discussed above, promotion and financial incentives are not often available in the public sector.   Employees, however have a great deal of pride in their work.  They care deeply about the ability to provide increased services to their constituents, and the personal rewards that come from that.  Another effective tool was to provide all stakeholders, including the procurement professional, information demonstrating the results of their efforts.  We were able to demonstrate financial savings from efficiency translating into newer automobiles for child caseworkers, more medication for the HIV program and better enforcement against “deadbeat dads.”


The third change issue that is very important in government is educating employees at all levels that it is all right to take risks and even to fail.  Many government employees have become risk adverse.  The mentality is: if you take a risk and it is successful no one will even bother to recognize the achievement, but take a risk and fail and your career is over.  I have seen this unfold many times in the government procurement setting.  For example, the buyer responsible for energy procurement does not lock in a reasonable number of long-term contracts and lets the price float.  The rationale: if I am right I will not be recognized for saving money; if I am wrong I will be criticized, so I may as well let the price float with the market and then I can not be blamed.  In order to effectively change the process you must actively encourage employees to take educated responsible risks.  These employees must be recognized for both the successful risks and for the courage to take the risk on ones that fail .


1. The status quo is comfortable2. People will go to absurd lengths to preserve the status quo and prevent change3. People fear the unknown; because it is the unknown.4. Do not alienate people during business process redesign; invite them into the tent as a partner5. There is a “carrot” for every personality; you just need to find it.6. Have the courage to take responsible risks and teach that to your team.7. Only through improvement and change will you achieve success.

Similar Resources

Featured Certificate: BPM Specialist

Everyone starts here.

You're looking for a way to improve your process improvement skills, but you're not sure where to start.

Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will give you the competitive advantage you need in today's world. Our courses help you deliver faster and makes projects easier.

Your skills will include building hierarchical process models, using tools to analyze and assess process performance, defining critical process metrics, using best practice principles to redesign processes, developing process improvement project plans, building a center of excellence, and establishing process governance.

The BPMS Certificate is the perfect way to show employers that you are serious about business process management. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you'll be able to take your business career to the next level.

Learn more about the BPM Specialist Certificate





  • Business Process Management Specialist
  • Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will provide you with a distinct competitive advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you’ll be able to take your business career to the next level.
  • BPM Professional Certificate
    Business Process Management Professional
  • Earning your Business Process Management Professional (BPMP) Certificate will elevate your expertise and professional standing in the field of business process management. Our BPMP Certificate is a tangible symbol of your achievement, demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management.


BPM Certification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Process Management Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Operational Excellence Specialist
  • Earning your Operational Excellence Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.


OpEx Professional Certificate

  • Operational Excellence Professional
  • Earn your Operational Excellence Professional Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.



  • Agile BPM Specialist
  • Earn your Agile BPM Specialist Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving business process management (BPM) with agile methodologies. You’ll gain a strong understanding of how to apply agile principles and concepts to business process management initiatives.  

Business Architecture



  • Business Architecture Specialist
  • The Business Architecture Specialist (BAIS) Certificate is proof that you’ve begun your business architecture journey by committing to the industry’s most meaningful and credible business architecture training program.

  • Business Architecture Professional
  • When you earn your Business Architecture Professional (BAIP) Certificate, you will be able to design and implement a governance structure for your organization, develop and optimize business processes, and manage business information effectively.

BA CertificationCertification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Architecture Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Digital Transformation Specialist
  • Earning your Digital Transformation Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. 


  • Digital Transformation Professional
  • The Digital Transformation Professional Certificate is the first program in the industry to cover all the key pillars of Digital Transformation holistically with practical recommendations and exercises.



  • Agile Business Analysis Specialist
  • Earning your Agile Business Analysis Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in the world of agile software development.


  • DAS Certificate
  • Decision Automation Specialist
  • Earning your Decision Automation Certificate will empower you to excel in the dynamic field of automated decision-making, where data-driven insights are pivotal to driving business innovation and efficiency.