Skip to main content
Logo of GPL Procurement Excellence Network

An initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab


The Procurement Excellence Network (PEN) is a free online hub for public sector leaders who aim to transform the procurement function within their governments. It is open exclusively to government staff from city, county, state, and federal governments, as well as local agencies (e.g., transit authorities or parks districts) in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. The goal of PEN is to help governments reform procurement to make it efficient, fair, results-driven, equitable, and strategic.

PEN aims to create a community of government staff learning, connecting, and creating together through regular interaction. Many of the resources in PEN are designed for those looking to make reforms in how their government procures, whether big (e.g., moving from a decentralized to a centralized procurement organization) or small (e.g., looking for a better model for a requisition intake form).

PEN is a one-stop shop for access to templates, publications, and training materials that staff can use in their government. We know you’re busy, so PEN gives you the flexibility to engage however works best for you.

Features of a PEN membership are available at no charge and include:

  • A member directory and an online discussion board
  • Virtual peer roundtables to connect with other procurement professionals
  • An expanding resource library - updated regularly
  • Interactive trainings and webinars
  • Coaching sessions with GPL experts for live 1-on-1 (or group) support
  • A newsletter announcing new resources, events, and opportunities

PEN is designed for government professionals and elected local and state leaders. The target audience for PEN is individuals whose work touches procurement. We recognize that many government staffers wear many hats. PEN provides resources that touch upon all aspects of procurement, contracting, RFP development, and improving collaboration and organizational transformation. Even if you don’t consider your role to be 100% procurement related, but writing RFPs or managing contracts is a part of your job, you’ll find plenty of interest to you. If you believe procurement can be a powerful tool for good and want to be inspired by others who believe the same, the Procurement Excellence Network is the place for you.

PEN is open to both those in junior and senior roles. Those working in the private or nonprofit sector are not currently eligible to join PEN but are welcome to download documents from the PEN Resource Library.

Yes! PEN provides tools and direct support at no charge to state and local government leaders.

There is no maximum number of people who can join PEN! We welcome multiple people (and even whole teams!) joining from a single city, county, or state government or government agency. PEN is designed to be broadly useful regardless of your skill level or role – whether you formally sit in data, legal, programs, policy, or procurement.

The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL), based in the School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, supports state and local governments across the country in designing and implementing solutions to pressing social problems. We develop hands-on tools for the design and implementation of projects to transform the way governments work. We do this by working closely with state and local governments to develop and test ways to successfully design, manage, and sustain reforms. We then spread these practices to communities across the country.

We have been working with state and local governments to improve government service delivery since 2011. Starting in 2015, our team began working more specifically on procurement projects, with the goal of making that function in government more results-driven and elevating the status of procurement. Since then, we’ve completed dozens of projects in which we’ve helped governments execute strategies like designing new RFPs for high-priority services, making procurement processes more efficient, looking at data regularly to determine if a vendor’s performance is on track, and making government contracting more welcoming and accessible to diverse firms.

PEN is open to professionals working in local, regional, tribal, state, or federal governments and government agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Our resources and best practices are drawn from the GPL’s 10+ years of experience working with mid-sized and large cities, counties, and states. Our hope is that staff at all levels of government will find the resources applicable to the challenges they face, no matter the size of the community for whom they work. However, we do recognize that some challenges may manifest differently in smaller communities, and we are always happy to meet with you one-on-one to discuss challenges you have that are not covered in our resources. Email us at with questions about whether PEN is a fit for your jurisdiction.

The GPL’s mission is to support state and local governments across the country in designing and implementing solutions to pressing social problems. Often, we help governments with major human services or social service procurements, such as for housing support services, youth programming, senior services, or child and family supports. However, we also support governments in transforming broader aspects of procurement and contracting, such as reducing procurement cycle times, opening up contracting data, or building staff capacity. We also support RFPs outside of the realm of social services, such as landscaping contracts, janitorial services, or major IT procurements.

If you’re looking for additional resources, tailored 1:1 support, or anything else, contact us! We are also available by email at We generally respond to inquiries within 1-2 business days.

Coaching sessions are appointments for one-on-one coaching or support with a GPL procurement expert,
available to PEN members free of charge. Do you have a question about how to implement a best
practice you read about in one of our publications? Or do you want to dive deeper into how you might
replicate an success story shared in an event? Even if you believe you have a problem that’s totally
unique to your government, we’re happy to help you think through potential approaches to tackling it.

You can ask us anything as long as it’s related to public procurement! For example, a Sustainability Coordinator for a small city in the Pacific Northwest wanted to better understand how to measure environmental outcomes for key procurements as the city prepared to develop a sustainable purchasing policy. He met with PEN team members for an hourlong coaching session to talk through effective performance metrics, review peer government sustainable purchasing policies, and make a plan for stakeholder engagement.

Contact us at any time to request a coaching session appointment.

We are always eager to hear new success stories or ideas for ways we can best support you! Reach out to us with questions, comments, or ideas at