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Palm Desert Increases Transparency and Bid Opportunities for Local Suppliers

City of Palm Desert

Palm Desert, CA

The City of Palm Desert needed to evolve its procurement progress to make access easier for local businesses and enhance efficiency for staff. In only three months, the city launched a new procurement system that enabled the city to support new development and infrastructure projects with accountability.

Topics Covered

Transparency
Process Improvement

Cost

Not available

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2021

Gov Champion

Finance Department

Problem Addressed

Palm Desert needed to update procurement processes to make it easier for local suppliers to do business with the city.

The City of Palm Desert, CA, used the upcoming 50th anniversary of its incorporation as an opportunity to evaluate internal operations and make improvements.

At the time, the city was in the midst of some significant changes that affected productivity, including bringing on a new City Manager and experiencing employee turnover as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With these changes taking place, procurement was an area of operations that stood out as needing improvement. Procurement had always been important, but a renewed focus on development and infrastructure at City Hall put the focus on greater workflow efficiency and accessibility for local suppliers. 

“As Palm Desert continues to grow and evolve, so do the needs of our community. Our local supplier network helps us meet those needs, so it makes a lot of sense to make it easier for these businesses to submit bids to supply goods and services to the City,” explained City Manager Todd Hileman.

Beyond making the process easier to access for local suppliers, procurement operations needed to create greater efficiency for city staff as well. Between issuing and receiving RFQs, RFPs, RFIs, and RFBs, the city’s existing purchasing workflows required a lot of time and focus from staff that could be better served elsewhere. With many of the staff moving between roles, it seemed like a timely opportunity to explore workflow automation and improve how procurement operations were performed. 

“A key factor in the move to modernize procurement is to free up staff time across departments,” Director of Purchasing, Lori Carney said. “Centralizing purchasing activities makes it possible for us to do that work more efficiently and strategically. As a result, non-purchasing staff can focus on more strategic projects,” she added.

The city began looking for ways to modernize its procurement processes that would lower the barriers for local and diverse suppliers to do business with the city and free up time for staff to perform other tasks.

Solutions Used

Palm Desert simplified bidding and increased transparency between the city and its suppliers on procurement processes.

The City of Palm Desert assessed options for a procurement solution and worked with staff across various city departments to evaluate opportunities for workflow automation. The previous system was time-intensive for staff, which hurt productivity during periods of employee turnover. The city identified the need for the new purchasing system to involve less clerical work, allow for more strategic time and enable more frequent collaboration between staff.

The city decided to use OpenGov, whom they had already worked with to modernize their budgeting and planning processes. 

Through organization-wide review sessions led by Director of Purchasing, Lori Carney, the city created a shorter and simpler online submission form to enable the local supplier network to more easily bid and do business with the city. The city increased transparency with suppliers through an online portal where vendors can view projects and submit bids. The new system enhanced purchasing accountability by making the tracking and reporting of contract and vendor spending easier. 

“With OpenGov, Palm Desert found a procurement solution that was intuitive and helped us automate the solicitation development.  Also, to our staff’s relief we are moving away from lengthy, in-person supplier scoring sessions toward a more streamlined, transparent, and collaborative process,” described Carney.  

After an incredibly fast implementation period of only three months, system efficiency allowed city staff to collaborate and evaluate bids online from the comfort of their desks rather than taking hours holed up in a conference room.

Using the city’s updated procurement workflows, Palm Desert can better deliver on its development and infrastructure projects and meet the growing community's needs as the city nears its 50th anniversary.

Outcomes

1

Palm Desert implemented a new procurement process in only 3 months, enabling the city to better support new development and infrastructure projects

2

Local suppliers can more easily participate in bidding and doing business with the city

3

Centralizing the city’s procurement process freed up time for staff across departments to focus on more strategic projects

4

The city can better oversee procurement with the ability to track and report on contract and vendor spend

Who Should Consider

Local governments that want to enhance opportunities for local suppliers to do business with the government.

Government Project Team

  • Todd Hileman, City Manager
  • Lori Carney, Director of Purchasing

Last Updated

May 25th, 2022
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