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80 gov’t buyers transitioning to General Services Administration

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About 80 buyers from different government agencies are being transitioned into the General Services Administration, as part of the new government procurement system to generate efficiencies, agency Director Karla Mercado-Rivera announced.

The transition should take about 90 days to complete, she said.

“Once this transition is complete, all government purchases will be made centrally with the objective of maximizing resources, generating savings and efficiency,” she said. “The full transition must be completed in three phases within a period of 90 working days, which will be May 20.”

“The process will be carried out in a phased and strategic manner so as not to interrupt the current work of each agency. When developing the transition plan, we took into account the complexity of each agency, its functions, needs and particular circumstances,” she said, noting that government agencies will have to draft an annual procurement plan based on annual projections.

The private sector will be able to access the plans, so that they can plan their inventories to offer them to the government, she said.

Mercado Rivera said this restructuring of procurement of public goods will eliminate the duplication of products and services, will standardize costs and will force the government to make purchases in a planned manner, with greater controls and in compliance with current regulations.

“Add to this that bidders to citizens will now be able to see the auction processes live. This way, we restore confidence in the government’s purchasing processes, while offering the private sector a greater opportunity for competition and transparency,” she said.

The first phase of the transition began Jan. 11 and should be completed Feb. 23, when staff from La Fortaleza, the Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Service, the Sports and Recreation Department, the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs, the Maritime Transportation Authority, the Convention Center District, the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department, the government’s Human Resources and Transformation Administration, and the Forensics Science Institute should transition.

The second phase that will run from Feb. 24 to April 8 involves integrating the Justice Department, the Health Department, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Public Safety Department and its dependencies, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, the Agriculture Department, the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture, the Municipal Revenues Collection Center, and the Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

The third and final phase, slated to run from April 9 to May 20 calls for transitioning staff from the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, the Department of Corrections, the National Guard, the Labor Department, the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Housing Finance Authority, all of the Ombusdman’s offices, among other entities.

As of May 20, no agency will be able to run independent procurement processes, as the restructuring and centralization of government purchases will have been completed, she said.

Mercado-Rivera said the new government procurement team, under the GSA, will comprise 77 buyers, bidding specialists and other staff necessary in procurement processes, such as accounting assistants responsible for allocating public funds to lock down the purchase.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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