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Streamlining spending

Efficiency and practices: Improving procurement at Memorial

Campus and Community

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

Memorial’s newly formed Strategic Procurement Office has quickly established itself as the go-to source for procurement expertise, strategic sourcing and negotiated contracts at the university.

The office within the Department of Financial and Administrative Services is driven by the university’s required compliance of the provincial Public Procurement Act (PPA) and related regulations.

It also supports the university community to follow the act and improve procurement processes. It also facilitates efficient, consistent and responsible spending.

Consolidated approach

“The office was created to streamline procurement for all units and strengthen the university’s compliance with the act,” said Kent Decker, vice-president (administration and finance). “The office is primarily focused on improving internal controls for purchasing within the departments under my portfolio, but we hope to expand support across the university.”

The office is integrating all procurement activities for the departments within the portfolio of the Office of the Vice-President (Administration and Finance).

Through this consolidated approach, the office is offering high-level service and value-added consultation through procurement expertise. The Strategic Procurement Office is also improving transparency and fairness in the procurement process.

Additionally, the PPA policy provides guidance that states “procurement records be kept individually by procurement, shall relate to all phases of the procurement process and shall be maintained in a central paper file or electronic file.” The office is co-ordinating this, which supports the university’s collegial approach.

Across the university

“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a robust reporting requirement, now shortened to a cycle of every 15 days, and the act and regulations impact purchasing in every university unit,” said Debbie Collis, director, financial and administrative services.

“The PPA now includes many services exempt under the previous act; it permits various forms of open calls, not just tenders; and it provides for supplier debriefing opportunities.”

Deanne Piercey, associate director, strategic procurement, Department of Financial and Administrative Services, was hired in June 2019.

The position was created through repurposing a vacant position. The other office staff include a manager of strategic procurement, a procurement clerk and a customs agent.

‘Reach out’

The strategic procurement office staff are subject matter experts with a significant knowledge base regarding procurement and customs clearances.

The office is standardizing templates and processes and establishing a consistent approach for responding to questions from vendors, posting addenda to open calls and co-ordinating opening times for public open calls for bids.

“All units can reach out to us for guidance with interpreting the PPA, assistance with award letters or sourcing strategies,” said Ms. Piercey. “We are here to assist and welcome you to get in touch.”

The office is located in the Ingstad Building alongside the Print and Mail Services unit of the Department of Financial and Administrative Services on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John’s.  Stay tuned for information on an open house in the early summer.

If you’re interested in learning more, you’re welcome to attend a procurement information session on Friday, March 6, from 2-4 p.m. in A-1046.  You can register for this session by contacting Melanie Butler.

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