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An initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab

About Us

At the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL), we know that state and local procurement leaders play a vital role in acquiring the services and products governments need to deliver results for residents.

The GPL’s Procurement Excellence Network (PEN) is a free online hub to support public sector leaders as they drive reforms to make their procurement practices more efficient, fair, results-driven, and equitable, and to sustain strategic transformations over time.

Join Us!
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Why the Procurement Excellence Network?

Over the past decade, the GPL has completed more than 200 projects in 35 states. Through these projects, we’ve seen how elevating procurement as a strategic function can help governments unlock new value, generate savings, progress on equity, and improve resident outcomes.

We all started our work in government with a passion to improve the lives of our residents, but all too often we get bogged down in the day-to-day frustrations of making effective change. This community is a space you can come to rekindle that passion and inspire yourself, your colleagues, and even your suppliers to achieve the impact you know is possible.

The Procurement Excellence Network will:

Gather stories from your peers across the network, elevating common challenges, and suggesting promising approaches for you to try.

Guide and coach you to foresee and overcome barriers to implementing those solutions.

Connect you directly with experts and your peers who have faced these problems before to facilitate real conversations that lead to effective change.

Support you along your journey toward procurement excellence.

The GPL Journey

Stage 1: The Founding of the Government Performance Lab (GPL)

The Government Performance Lab (GPL) was founded in 2011 by Jeffrey Liebman, Harvard Kennedy School Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Public Policy, with the mission to support governments in building just and effective service systems. The GPL began with a small team of fellows pioneering the use of social impact bonds to launch pay-for-success projects. These early engagements allowed the GPL to build hands-on tools and develop a model of embedding fellows in government agencies to provide pro bono technical assistance on innovative projects. From there, the GPL has grown from a team of 2 to a team of over 50, worked on over 200 projects spanning 35 states, shifted over $6 billion in state and local funding towards contracts designed to incentivize results, and improved government services reaching more than 490,000 residents.

More details on Stage 1

Stage 2: Advising Cities on High-Priority Procurements

In 2015, the GPL expanded our work by joining as one of the collaborators on the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative. We began providing support and conducting research on municipal procurement and contracting practices by providing technical assistance to cities to implement results-driven contracting (RDC) strategies for their most important procurements and RFPs. These RDC strategies, developed by the GPL, help state and local governments to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of contracted services and products and better align contracted spending with a government’s needs and priorities.

More details on Stage 2

Stage 3: Expanding to Reform Procurement Systems

In the last five years, the GPL has expanded from primarily supporting governments on high-priority RFPs to working broadly on many aspects of procurement operations and contract management at the city-, county-, and state-level. Through these system-wide projects, we aim to elevate procurement as a strategic function that can help governments unlock new value, generate savings, progress on equity, and improve resident outcomes. In some cases, we spend 2-3 years working with a jurisdiction on intensive Extreme Procurement Makeover projects, where the GPL helps a government to become “best in class” in procurement. We also began working for the first time outside the U.S., supporting Santiago, Chile with parks maintenance procurement and contract prioritization.

More details on Stage 3

Stage 4: Scaling & Spreading Procurement Excellence

The GPL continues to apply our research through Extreme Procurement Makeover projects and other initiatives to support public sector leaders across the U.S., Latin America, and Canada harness the full power of procurement and help governments make their procurement function more efficient and fair, results-driven, equitable, and strategic. Today, we are especially interested in scaling & spreading tested procurement practices. The Procurement Excellence Network will provide tools and direct as-needed support to a broad array of state and local government leaders interested in launching their own procurement reforms. The goal of this space is to offer these solutions to all governments--creating an opportunity for you to learn alongside us and from one another. Whether you’re a seasoned buyer, brand new to procurement, or work in policy, program management, or data analytics, we’ve designed this space to support you.

More details on Stage 4

Meet the PEN Team

The Government Performance Lab (GPL), housed at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, conducts research on how governments can improve the results they achieve for their citizens. An important part of this research model involves providing hands-on technical assistance to state and local governments. GPL team members work alongside government leaders to solve pressing social problems and improve how governments operate.

Meet the Team
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We thank all the government procurement professionals we consulted with to build this space. You helped make this initiative possible, and we are deeply grateful to you. We are also thankful to the broader team at the GPL who supported the creation of this initiative, from communications support to hiring and operations.

With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.