Chicago’s Procurement Reform Task Force Concludes Work with Unfinished Business

(Chicago) The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its evaluation of the implementation of recommendations of the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (PRTF). Established in 2015, PRTF identified opportunities for the City of Chicago and sister agencies to work together to establish and implement best practices for procurement operations. Over the past seven years, Participating Members of the PTRF have made progress in implementing 28 of 31 recommendations. However, the PRTF declared its work complete in November 2022, despite not having implemented three of the most critical recommendations: to create a single website providing contracting information and guidance from all Participating Members (#7); to adopt best practices for routine audits of procurement processes, ideally using shared services to that end (#19); and to implement a universal procurement system—a single point of entry for posting and responding to all Participating Members’ contracting opportunities (#28). As is required by ordinance, OIG publishes today’s evaluation within 90 days of PRTF’s November 2022 report.

“The City and its sister agencies have invested significant time and resources in pursuit of PRTF’s goals—that is, more efficient, cost-effective, and accountable procurement processes. The Participating members have, however, declared their work complete and abandoned those efforts well short of the finish line,” said Deborah Witzburg, Inspector General for the City of Chicago. “By declaring the ‘close-out’ of the project without finishing its work, PRTF’s members have failed to live up to its mission and goals,” added Witzburg.

About the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (PRTF)

The Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (PRTF) convened in May 2015. The City’s Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) and then-Inspector General co-chaired the initiative, which included the Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director, or Chancellor of six other local governmental bodies: 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 was tasked with developing recommendations to make procurement and contract management at the City and its sister agencies more uniform, efficient, and cost-effective while increasing accountability. Its goal was to distinguish successful practices, identify areas for improvement and promote a greater level of uniformity across City government and each participating sister agency. (Read more about the PRTF.)

PRTF performed an important public service by closely scrutinizing the purchasing processes of the City and its sister agencies and offering 31 clear and comprehensive recommendations for collaborative improvement and reform. The Participating Members expended considerable time and resources in subsequent years to implement those recommendations.

In November 2022, a committee comprising Chief Procurement Officers of the involved agencies (CPO Committee) issued a “Close-Out and Status Report” announcing the termination of the PRTF project, despite incomplete implementation of three critically important recommendations and previous commitments to make responsive reforms.

Read the full assessment on OIG’s website: OIG on Implementation of Recommendations of the Procurement Reform Task Force.


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