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Superintendent's News

Posted: March 4, 2022

March is National Procurement Month

Supt. Elder writes about steps the APS Procurement Department has taken to assure tax dollars are spent appropriately and efficiently.

The nearly 300 employees authorized to approve purchases and other financial transactions for Albuquerque Public Schools may be familiar with the mascot for Spend Matters memos sent regularly by the Procurement Department. Nicknamed Procurement Pete, the cartoon teenager asks "What's Your Plan" atop emails that share essential information regarding procurement, accounts payable, and business systems.

In recent months, Procurement Pete and the department he represents have shared helpful tips on such topics as purchase orders (get one before you buy!), approved vendors, pricing agreements, competitive quotes, the APS Materials Warehouse, online shopping, purchasing deadlines, and Infor Lawson, the business software used by the district.

Continual messaging is one of the ways the Procurement Department assures that tax dollars are spent appropriately and efficiently. Missed a memo? No problem. The information is available on the department's updated website and included in the new and improved APS Purchasing User Guide, which states as its mission "to maximize the purchasing value of public funds and to provide safeguards for maintaining a system of quality and integrity."

The department also recently reviewed and updated the district's Purchasing/Procurement policies and procedural directives, approved by the APS Board of Education. Then, the department provided mandatory training for all users to make sure they understood and practiced these procedures so that the district's $1.7 billion annual budget is spent as intended and according to laws, rules, and expectations. This means getting the best deal, assuring fairness and transparency, and providing a clear paper trail for every purchase, from paper clips to new school buildings.

The process of spending district dollars may seem cumbersome, but that's the point. We appreciate that the small but dedicated APS Procurement Department makes sure that we are dotting i's, crossing t's, and taking all the proper steps to make us accountable to the community we serve. They deserve a pat on the back, maybe even a month dedicated to their profession.

It just so happens that March is National Procurement Month. State Auditor Brian Colόn, in a letter to the New Mexico Public Procurement Association, noted that the public procurement profession "plays a significant role in the efficiency and effectiveness of local and state government purchasing." He added that trusted Certified Procurement Officers build reliable practices that protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse.

The next time you're waiting (patiently, I hope) for approval of a purchase request, maybe thank the team that makes sure we're doing just that.