Strategies, Methods and Outlook
Edited by Daniel A. Mazmanian and Hilda Blanco
Chapter 18: A systems approach towards sustainable procurement
Cities, like any large organization, require considerable and varied arrays of goods and services in order to meet the needs of constituents. At the most simplistic level, agencies spanning geographic scopes, from local agencies such as city and county governments to state and national-scale departments, all procure goods and services to serve the internal day-today function of the organization itself. Cities procure products such as janitorial products to clean facilities in which such public agencies operate. In other cases, public agencies procure services that impact the public economic and environmental sphere directly and are drawn from beyond their ‘in-house’ resources such as contracting private builders to construct public works projects. In doing so, they must weigh options between particular goods and services. As noted by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (2008), for example, ‘the primary role of public procurement is to obtain quality goods and services to support an effective and efficient government’. The necessary functions of the city are supported through this process (Coe 1989; Murray 2007; New Economic Foundation 2005). In fact, procurement has been portrayed by scholars such as Thai (2001) as one of four major economic activities undertaken by government – including providing a legal framework, redistribution of income through taxation and spending, and the provision of public goods. This operation is, in theory, thus designed to produce public and commons goods to constituencies in the form of everything from enforcement of zoning decisions to the administration of parking permits.
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