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To Make Government Great Again, Fix the Procurement System

Category management is not just a new name for strategic sourcing. Rather, strategic sourcing is one of the tools used by category teams to manage procurement expenditure to achieve mission value.

Unfortunately, much of the writing about strategic sourcing conflates it with category management, creating some misunderstanding about how the two are related. Detangling the definitions can help; though doing so necessarily simplifies processes that in practice are highly nuanced and often overlapping.

It’s worth the risk, however, in order to clarify what is strategic about strategic sourcing and how category management strategies are successfully executed.

Category management and strategic sourcing differ in scope, processes, data requirements, tools and outcomes.

Category Management

Category management is a continuous, market-facing, end-to-end process. It encompasses all aspects of spending, from transactional efficiency through sourcing to life-cycle management. Its scope is the total procurement expenditure of an entire organization. It seeks to manage that spending to best deliver the organization’s mission strategy. It organizes procurement spend into categories of goods and services available from the same or a similar supplier base.

An organization’s enterprisewide category strategy originates from its procurement strategy, which is a subset of the organizational mission or business...

What is Behind the Turkey Pardoning Ritual?

Since 1989, when President George H. W. Bush first formally instituted the practice, U.S. presidents have pardoned a turkey shortly before Thanksgiving each year.

Although the turkeys offer no offense, their presidential pardoning invites the question: What is the significance of such a public rite of forgiveness?

As a researcher of the history of race and religion, I have long been interested in the ideas and ceremonies that make forgiveness possible. The presidential turkey pardon draws on the long traditions of forgiveness in the world’s religions. A very public act of pardoning, as in this case, reminds us about the important role rituals themselves play in society.

The many ways of forgiveness

Different religious traditions conceive, articulate and express forgiveness in diverse ways.

For example, the Islamic community treats forgiveness as a process that takes place in front of and with the support of other Muslims. It is not a solitary endeavor. Muslims expect the offender to display remorse and directly request forgiveness from the harmed party so that justice can be restored. The community does not expect that forgiveness be offered until after justice has been realized. Nonetheless, Muslims are encouraged to forgive because it represents a...

What Mid-Size Cities Can Teach Feds About Performance

Early lessons have begun to emerge from the three-year, $42 million effort launched last year by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help 100 mid-sized cities improve their performance through open data, performance management, evaluation, and results-driven contracting.

Cities are front line implementers for numerous federal programs, including those in transportation, education, health and social services. Now at the halfway point, the project – called What Works Cities – has begun working with 55 cities across the United States representing a combined population of 19 million.

What have they learned? Perhaps one of the most important lessons learned so far has been to start small with a handful of issues that are vitally important to the community and its local leaders.

“Data isn't urgent in and of itself,” said Simone Brody, executive director of the initiative at Results for America. “To make it relevant, it needs to address an actual program or policy in the city.”

Success also requires buy in. “Commitment really matters. If the mayor or senior team of the city isn't really on board, it gets lost. People can move onto other issues,” she said.

Progress across the 55 cities has varied, with most focusing on just one or two...

Don't Let Your Message Morph Into Propaganda

I have worked for the federal government since 2003 across half a dozen agencies and not once has anyone ever instructed me to lie. Not once.

But there are many ways to lie. What used to be merely disingenuous on the government's part—a way to avoid controversy, maintain credibility, and try to look good—can be downright dangerous.

In just a few short years, all of us have developed an incredibly sophisticated vocabulary when it comes to decoding the signals and symbols of communication.

In the past, we woke up in the morning and we read the newspaper on the train. Some of us watched the morning news or listened to the news highlights on the radio, driving to work or school.

Not so much today.

The ubiquity and power of social media means that people consume information continuously. Where there used to be an absolute Berlin Wall between fact and opinion, the lines have blurred. As the presidential election made absolutely clear, that reliable construct has clearly fallen.

Branding has been with us for many, many years, too. It is of course the construction of a common fantasy, and for the dream you pay a very specific...

Closing the Federal Millennial Hiring Gap

After a boom, there doesn’t have to be a bust. Federal agencies have a real opportunity to increase the number of millennials in their workforce as more and more baby boomers retire.

When baby boomers—the largest generation of its time—entered the job market, their traditional roots landed them seamlessly in the federal workforce. But agencies have had a difficult time getting the now-larger-in-number millennials on board. Despite making up about one-third of the private sector labor force, the under-30 crowd represented only 7 percent of federal employees in 2015—the lowest that figure has been in nearly a decade.

It’s not for lack of open positions. By 2017, 31 percent of federal workers will be eligible to retire. Many of those jobs are in areas where millennials are comfortable. U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott estimated that the government would have to fill 10,000 jobs in cybersecurity in 2016, and government loses approximately 5,000 information technology workers each year. Agencies need these young digital natives to deliver on the promise of federal IT modernization and digital transformation, much like when President Obama hired hundreds of millennials from Silicon Valley to revamp Healthcare.gov...

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