Friday, July 22, 2005
More on LANL Procurement System
Jiron's July 7 letter says:
Over the last several months, statistics show that almost 90 percent of all purchase requests (PRs) are incomplete when received by SUP procurement. A review of the data and direct discussions with requesters shows that a large number of requesters are not aware of institutionally imposed requirements that must accompany a purchase request.
When 90 percent of purchase requests submitted by thousands of intelligent, competent people are incomplete, it says that there is something profoundly wrong with the purchasing process. Perhaps some form of training will help, but I suspect that dedicating FTE's to this is not the answer.
I suggest that if the procurement process, instructions, forms, etc. were clear and concise, these same "requesters" should be able to get it right at least 90 percent of the time. Rather than devote time and resources to training people to use a complicated and convoluted system with partially hidden requirements and poorly communicated rules, SUP should be devoting those resources to attacking the process.
Response to purchasing process
In a July 20 letter to the Reader’s Forum, Bruce McReynolds highlights exactly the type of issues we are investigating and fixing as we endeavor to improve procurement. As I stated in my previous letter, “Supply Chain Management (SUP) Division readily acknowledges that we have weaknesses in our procurement processes. We are in the process of mitigating identified weaknesses …” Indeed, we currently are determining how best to improve and streamline numerous aspects of our processes, including instructions, forms, etc. like McReynolds mentioned.
But there is another crucial aspect to improvement. As pointed out in my July 8 master management memo, “A review of the data and direct discussions with requesters shows that a large number of requesters are not aware of institutionally imposed requirements that must accompany a [purchase request].” Because of the nature of Laboratory operations, we are obliged to build complexities and requirements from multiple sources into our purchasing systems. These complexities probably never will be reduced to a merely rote process.
However, systems improvements coupled with training are an effective, cost-efficient way to rectify procurement difficulties arising from a misunderstanding of institutionally imposed requirements. It is important to note that the target audience for training is designated individuals within organizations who have been or will be assigned specific authority to generate purchase requests. We do not intend to bog down bench scientists with training that they might not benefit from.
We are taking a systems approach to improving procurement. That means we are focusing on improving our processes, such as simplifying paperwork and instructions, enhancing requester awareness of institutionally imposed requirements through training, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of procurement staff, among other improvements.
These improvements, when taken in the aggregate, will help improve our acquisition capabilities and reduce our acquisition costs. Reduced costs can mean more available funding for programs, while improved acquisition capabilities can mean fewer delays to programmatic work. I believe these are outcomes we can all support.
--Albert Jiron, acting Supply Chain Management (SUP) Division leader
amazing. They seemed to have hired a professional DJ to run the show!
I've never seen ANY other lab division put on a shin-dig like this one.
Constant lottery prizes where being announced throughout the event. What
did this "Las-Vegas style" shin-dig cost the lab? Anyone know. From the
looks of it, I'd guess the costs must have been quite high.
I wish my division had the money to treat our staff in this luxury fashion.
All we get are hamburgers, hot-dogs, and face time with our managers. What's
on tap for next year, SUP? A summer cruise to the Caribbean? I hope the
auditors take a close look at just what this Friday extravaganza cost.
in my tech group unless you had your own funding available to pay for it,
so we all made do with pitifully old equipment. Over at the Otowi building,
however, the support (BUS) workers were all sitting in front of the fastest
new PCs. Of course, the technical staff was helping to pay for all those
new PCs with the high taxation rate on their funding. Looks like things
haven't changed much over the years at LANL. The prime cuts still go to
the Support division, even if it's only a summer afternoon picnic.