On May 27, 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel convened the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (PRTF). The Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) and the Inspector General (OIG) for the City of the Chicago co-chaired PRTF, which included the CEO, Executive Director, or Chancellor of six of the City’s sister agencies: the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), the Chicago Park District (Parks), and the Public Building Commission (PBC).
PRTF undertook a six-month project to identify opportunities for these entities (collectively, the Participating Members) to implement, in a uniform manner, best practices for awarding, managing, and overseeing public contracts. The Task Force’s mission was to maximize operational efficiency, increase accountability, and economize public funds.
In November 2015, PRTF reported its findings, grouped into five categories representing the essential principles of government procurement: competition, efficiency, transparency, integrity, and uniformity. The Task Force also made recommendations designed to advance these principles, a 31-point blueprint for refining and standardizing the Participating Members’ procurement operations. The recommendations in the 2015 Report of the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force fall into three categories: the first 15 were proposed for “immediate” implementation (i.e., by March 30, 2016); the next 12 for “mid-term” implementation (by December 31, 2016); and last 4 for “long-term” implementation (in “2017 and beyond”).
Pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement executed under the authority of an ordinance passed by City Council and approved by Mayor Emanuel in January 2016, the Participating Members fulfilled PRTF’s Recommendation #1 by creating the CPO Committee, and charging it with addressing the Task Force’s recommendations, tracking their implementation, and issuing quarterly and annual reports. The ordinance also directed the Participating Members to begin work on Recommendation #5 by establishing a committee of Chief Information Officers (the Chicago Government IT Coordination Committee) to manage the technical aspects of the implementation process, and directed OIG to prepare and publish, within 90 days following the issuance of each Annual Report, an independent evaluation of the Participating Members’ progress toward implementing the recommendations.
In March 2017, the CPO Committee issued the 2016 Annual Report of the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force, indicating that the Participating Members had addressed, in whole or part, 27 of the 31 recommendations. In May 2017, OIG issued its First Annual Progress Report on the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force. Our review concluded that the Members had fully implemented 7 of the PRTF recommendations, formulated policies and processes for implementing 7 others, partially implemented an additional 13, and had not yet begun to address the remaining 4. OIG suggested that the CPO Committee set target completion deadlines for the 24 open recommendations.
In March 2018, the CPO Committee issued the 2017 Annual Report, indicating that the Participating Members had fully implemented 18 recommendations and partially implemented the remaining 13. In May 2018, OIG issued its Second Annual Progress Report. Our review concluded that the Members had fully implemented 14 of the recommendations and partially implemented 15 others, and that 2 of the recommendations remained in the “process completed; implementation ongoing” category.
In March 2019, the CPO Committee issued the 2018 Annual Report, indicating that the Participating Members had fully addressed 23 recommendations and partially addressed the remaining 8. To prepare the Third Annual Progress Report, issued in June 2019, OIG solicited the assistance of and worked in coordination with the IGs of the Participating Members to more closely assess whether represented actions had, in fact, been undertaken. Based on that joint-IG undertaking, we concluded that the Participating Members had fully implemented 13 of the recommendations and partially implemented 9 others, and that the remaining 9 recommendations, which were designated as completed, had not yet been fully and consistently operationalized across the board.
In June 2020, the CPO Committee issued the 2019 Annual Report, indicating that the Participating Members had fully addressed 27 recommendations and partially addressed the remaining 4. With the caveat that the unique challenges in 2020 limited OIG’s ability to undertake the full and rigorous review taken in past years, we tentatively confirm the Committee’s assessment. In 2021, OIG—consulting, as necessary, with our colleagues from the offices of the IGs of the Participating Members—will endeavor, as in 2019, to provide a full account of the status of the remaining recommendations pending completion. These, in significant part, relate to information system and technology upgrades and reforms on the way to a more unified, interoperable platform across the City and its Sister Agencies, respecting procurement and contract programming, management, and enforcement.