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Cincinnati Manager changing way the city buys stuff

Tana Weingartner

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black is changing the way the city purchases goods and services.  

Starting March 23 all contracts, bids or requests for proposals of $50,000 or more will have to come to his office for review and approval.  

Black said the goal is to streamline and centralize the procurement process.  He said right now city departments have different methods for buying goods and services.

"It’s highly inefficient; and it’s not as effective as it needs to be in terms of transaction cycle times, you know turning a procurement around,” Black said.  “We are spending much, much more money than we need to spend because we’re not spending the money strategically from a procurement standpoint.  We’re not doing procurement planning, and we’re not doing procurement forecasting nor strategic planning.”

Black said it costs the city extra when different departments buy goods and services on their own.   He pointed to a recent study reviewing five years of purchase data.

“The city has spent several hundreds of millions of dollars and 70 percent of those dollars have gone to 38 companies,” Black said.  “That’s unacceptable.  It tells me that we’re not maximizing and we’re not encouraging competition the way that we need to encourage it to make certain that we’re getting value for money; and that we’re getting a broader pool of vendors to provide goods and services to the city.”

Credit Provided
Portion of Cincinnati document outlining administration regulation changing city procurement policies.

Black said some may call it micro-management.  But right now, in his opinion, there is no management or oversight.  

“If we’re buying commodity A or we’re purchasing service B, we want to make certain that every department is doing it the same way, under the same standards, the same guidelines,” Black said.  “So it’s a quality control check is really what it is.”

Each city department will also have to prepare and submit an annual procurement plan to the city manager's office in September.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.