Urban Institute
Policy Associate

How procurement officials can strengthen PFS projects

September 6, 2018 - 2:42pm

I recently presented at the NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement’s annual conference with my colleague Rayanne Hawkins. Throughout the presentation on pay for success (PFS) and procurement, we highlighted lessons from existing projects to underscore how a strong procurement process can improve a PFS project. Procurement officials are a key stakeholder group in PFS projects because they oversee the nuts and bolts of project design, service provider selection, and the resulting contracts. The presentation followed the release of an earlier brief, which touched on similar themes.

Our research taught us that government stakeholders value knowledgeable procurement officials who can serve as resources to strengthen PFS projects. Here are three ways that procurement officials can add value to projects:

  • As PFS projects often attempt to undertake a new or innovative initiative, it is important to keep in mind that they must still adhere to local rules regarding fair, competitive procurement processes. Procurement officials can help projects determine solutions (e.g., new legislation) that avoid running afoul of local rules, particularly if they are consulted toward the beginning of the project.
  • Local procurement officials are a great resource for project partners thinking about how to structure requests for information (RFIs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) to obtain the quality, relevant proposals from interested parties. RFIs and RFPS are critical tools for surveying the interest of the field and recruiting high quality service providers and intermediaries.
  • When reviewing responses to RFPs and RFIS, procurement officials can apply their knowledge of best value analysis; a framework that ensures governments are not only getting a good price, but also that the government is procuring quality service providers able to deliver on the outcomes of the contract.

Strong PFS projects leverage the experience of local experts, including and especially procurement officials. Because this is such an important stakeholder group, our work on procurement is not over. We are now working on a paper on outcomes-based contracting. If you have any experience and would like to share your experience with procurement and OBCs, please reach out to our PFS Support Center.

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