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An initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab

One Year Anniversary Page

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Image showing the four pillars of procurement excellence

Celebrating Our First Anniversary

Kailey Burger Ayogu

Managing Director

Dear Procurement Excellence Network members,

I am so excited to announce the one-year anniversary of this virtual community built by and for procurement professionals!

For years, our procurement team at the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab dreamed of scaling our lessons learned from procurement transformation projects across the country. Now, in collaboration with you, we have created this impactful community to support procurement change agents in launching procurement reforms.

We’ve had quite a first year! PEN released over 70 publications, hosted 20 virtual events and trainings, and has grown to over 1,000 members! As one member recently commented, PEN “has become my go-to resource for elevating procurement to a strategic priority.” We look forward to continuing to support you in building connections, sharing your ideas, and learning new approaches.

You all truly inspire us – every day you show up to make sure your communities have what they need to thrive, and we are so grateful for your contributions as public servants and also as PEN members! The ideas you’ve shared in our virtual events, office hours, newsletters, and community conversations have helped build a national conversation on procurement innovation. There is so much more to come!

In partnership,

Kailey Burger Ayogu
Managing Director
Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab

Snapshot of Our First Year



from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America

70+ publications with


total views

20+ virtual events with


office hours



initiating operational changes

Member Map

Impact Stories

Tammy Corb

Data and Performance Strategist
City of Sugar Land, TX

"Half the battle of starting a reform project is knowing where to start, especially when the subject matter is relatively new, which procurement was to me until roughly 6 months ago. In my new role as Data and Performance Strategist in the Department of Data and Innovation, I was charged with partnering with the Purchasing Division to evolve our city’s procurement practices from compliance-driven to results-driven. I quickly got to work to research best practices. Landing on the Procurement Excellence Network site, I felt like I had struck gold.

All the work I thought I would need to develop from scratch was staring me in the face; expanding vendor capacity, mapping our current procurement processes, promoting data and transparency, evaluating vendor performance and so much more! Combine the invaluable resources with the ability to schedule Office Hours to ask poignant questions and attend educational webinars, Procurement Excellence Network has been my go-to resource for elevating procurement to a strategic priority here at the City of Sugar Land. Having PEN as a partner and collaborator on this journey has been instrumental, and I can’t thank them enough."

TJ Martin

Chief Assistant City Attorney
City of Phoenix, AZ

"The Procurement Excellence Network (PEN) has been an exceptional addition to the world of government procurement. The PEN team members are amazing resources and have generously made introductions to leaders from other jurisdictions who were addressing the same or similar issues/projects as Phoenix. I most appreciate the regularly scheduled presentations on hot topics and find the opportunity to openly engage with others during these virtual conference calls invaluable. Let’s not forget that with just one post on the PEN Member Dashboard, I can and have obtained templates, sample policies, and feedback from procurement professionals that I have never met. As a result, I now literally have access to colleagues and resources from Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts and San Diego, California to Miami, Florida all from my desk in Phoenix, Arizona!"

Sanford Hess

IT Director
City of Urbana, IL

PEN has been a great resource for networking and learning new ideas from organizations with more advanced procurement processes. After a recent PEN virtual event, I connected with a fellow PEN member who shared an excellent reporting framework for their sourcing spend. This document jumpstarted conversations with my colleagues to reconsider what information we capture in our own reporting. We wouldn't even be having these conversations without the connections made through PEN - now we're on track to improve our reporting process!"

Mary Richards

Procurement Supervisor
City of Madison, WI

“I’ve enjoyed attending many virtual events put on by the Procurement Excellence Network, as well as utilizing the Resource Library and Community Conversations board. The biggest change we have made so far is using the Resource Library and Community Conversations to draft a simplified and more accessible RFP bid document. A group of City of Madison employees has been working all year on the new bid document, and we hope to roll it out in the next few months. We obtained benchmark documents recommended by PEN from the City of Long Beach and the City of Boston, which served as models for our own template.”

Key Procurement Themes in 2023

Procurement processes are still a huge driver of inefficiency

PEN members tell us that inefficient procurement processes continue to be the top challenge they’re facing. Unfortunately, even new technology and more staff are only addressing part of this challenge, and still more work is needed to create processes that are truly clear, inviting, and efficient.​

Workforce challenges make it hard to implement projects and harder to innovate

Across the country we’re seeing that an uptick in staff departures and increased workloads are creating major challenges in procurement; prompting governments to consider creative staffing models, hiring for new skillsets, and empowering user departments to take on more.​

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to significantly disrupt public procurement

The current use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in public procurement is limited, but growing rapidly and creating a lot of buzz and commentary. As the use of AI grows, some governments are planning ahead by putting governance structures in place now to manage its use.

Governments are responding to the shifting landscape around equity in public contracting

State and local governments have implemented strategies to continue advancing equitable procurement amidst uncertainty raised by the potential impact of recent and anticipated court decisions, and a fast-evolving legal landscape.​

Reformers are activating procurement champions by strategically engaging elected or appointed political leaders

Members note that they are often subject to scrutiny or the approval of elected officials/bodies, which can present delays and hurdles if those entities are not well versed in procurement. Yet, by engaging these leaders it can be an opportunity to elevate the status of procurement. ​

Procurement should be used as a tool for addressing pressing challenges, such as climate and infrastructure

As historic federal investments flow into states and cities, governments are getting ready for cross collaboration between program departments, procurement, and private sector efforts. Procurement officers will need to have shared language and goals on impact in their communities.​

Download the slides from our anniversary event here