States Buying Smarter: Lessons Learned from Minnesota and Virginia

May 10, 2010

The current economic climate has prompted policy makers and procurement specialists across the country to rethink the way they leverage state buying power. This eight-page issue brief (PDF) explores the innovations of leaders in Minnesota and Virginia—states that have saved hundreds of millions of dollars by enhancing their procurement systems.

Highlights From the Brief

  • • Minnesota has achieved­ $246 million in actual and projected cost savings since December 2005, using innovative practices such as developing statewide product standards and negotiating with vendors throughout the procurement process.

  • • Virginia saved an estimated $114 million from 2001 to 2004 by securing lower prices on selected goods and services through improved contracting practices.

The brief also details the five interrelated reforms that states can adopt to achieve even greater benefits, as well as the practical and political challenges to reform.

These practices, among others, yield a roadmap for reform. With states purchasing more than $200 billion annually in goods and services, and conservative estimates suggesting that reforms could save five to 10 percent of that total spending, the reputation of procurement as a rote, administrative task is poised for a makeover. 

Full Report: Purchasing and Contracting Practices

The full report (PDF) explores the purchasing and contracting practices in Minnesota and Virginia. The report was researched and written with financial support from the Pew Center on the States by Trevor L. Brown, associate professor and the associate director for academic affairs and research at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University; Sergio Fernandez, assistant professor of public affairs at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs; and Alexander C. Heckman, visiting assistant professor at The Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University.

Focus on Performance

This collaborative project from the Government Performance Project and Stateline, the newsgathering arm of Pew Center on the States, looks at states' successes and failures as they retool government during this downturn. Read Stateline's story about Minnesota's procurement model.

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