Strategic Procurement in the Public Sector: A Mask for Financial and Administrative Policy

2005 | Darin Matthews, Journal of Public Procurement 5(3)

As government responds to demands to become more efficient and effective, procurement professionals are expected to focus primarily on the strategic aspects of procurement and less on routine transactions. In reality, public procurement masks the ability of government to transform taxes and other revenues into consumption by government institutions at federal, state and local levels, ostensibly for the public good. Public purchasers are told by their professional institutions and their private sector peers to be more proactive and less reactive in order to add greater value to their organization. However, tradition has decreed that procurement processes are managed by “unglamorous individuals” (Stewart, 1994) who are required, first and foremost, to satisfy the complex accountability processes of the government, an administrative principle, which is reinforced by recent failures of corporate financial governance. Furthermore, a search of contemporary literature shows little evidence that public procurement has penetrated the theoretical boundaries of public management or strategic management despite the profession’s efforts over more than a decade to develop its profile. This paper explores two contemporary dilemmas: the boundaries of public procurement within the context of public administration and the mask of public accountability, which impedes the integration of public procurement into public administration (PA) and strategic theory.

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