Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Get Creative With Strategic Sourcing (Part 2)

Please click here for Part 1 of this post.

Our own Windy City has a bit of an odd approach to contracting and supplier selection (at least historically) that might receive some disapproval from most in the private sector. Knowing the local Alderman (city councilman), parading your employees around City Hall and associated public sector offices in t-shirts that highlight minority certifications to would-be customers, contributing to the campaign of a state representative or former governor -- all of these have historically factored into how suppliers sell and influence public sector workers to make vendor selections. Nope. We're not kidding. This is Chicago, after all.

But the CPO for the public school system (CPS), Sebastien de Longeaux, who joined in March 2012, is out to change things, as we began to highlight in the start of this post. In a recent Chicago Tribune article, he states, "What we're doing is really challenging any price the vendor is telling us." Bringing in a former private sector procurement leader such as de Longeaux is something that is surprising in a public sector environment where the status quo has long been merely tolerated. Yet it looks like having its back up against the budget wall forced CPS to make a bold move. And thank goodness it has.

As the Tribune notes, the city targeted procurement over other budget areas by challenging "vendors' costs by doing research on market prices and renegotiating where they saw a gap between that and what was being paid ... Altogether, $11.5 million was saved in working out better deals with vendors. Another $20 million is expected as new contracts are being negotiated for construction projects, transportation, utilities, food and education supplies. The district has also cut costs by $11 million in its information technology department, including by migrating to a single email system with Google Apps."

The tactics CPS is deploying could come from any private sector handbook. We'll share them in the next post in this series.

- Jason Busch

Voices (2)

  1. staff:

    Its sad that a man who runs our public schools doesn’t believe in sending his own children to the schools where he is cutting every budget. But his kids are going to a private school that cost $20,000.00 a year per kid. His kids are learning different languages at there school, his kids have small class’s where his kids get special attention. How about this guy cuts his own budget and salary. How about send your kids to the school that you are cutting budgets. that have 30 kids in a class, or school that has to ask for toilet paper because there isn’t enough in the Budget. I think he is making decision for his kids but doesn’t really care about the Chicago inner city. He just took nursing jobs away from the inner city nurses. Those nurses live in the city, those nurses send there kids to CPS, those kids parents now just lost there jobs. But your kids still get to go to a 20,000 a year school.

  2. Kris Colby:

    Are they running reverse auctions?

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