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Puerto Rico GSA integrates private sector to optimize procurement

The Puerto Rico General Services Administration (GSA), the agency responsible for government acquisitions of goods, works and services, invited the private sector to participate in a series of focus group sessions conducted by the agency as part of the digital transformation process in government contracting.

GSA Administrator Karla Mercado-Rivera said the goal is to develop digital tools that meet the needs of both the government and the private sector. 

“The idea is not just to digitize but to make this transformation effective, resulting in the elimination of bureaucracy while ensuring transparency,” she said.

The next session, in which businesses, merchants and professionals can participate, will take place Oct. 4 at the GSA Academy.

The official explained that in the initial sessions, 25 successful bidders with the most purchases were invited. As part of the plan to elevate the GSA to a world-class optimization level, the agency obtained an ISO 9001 certification focused on customer service. ISO 9001 is based on seven quality management principles, one of which is a customer-focused approach, with bidders being one of them. Another benefit of the open sessions is that merchants gain firsthand knowledge about the purchasing procedures, can provide feedback and address concerns with GSA staff.

As a result of the focus group sessions, entrepreneurs highlighted strengths such as centralized purchasing processes, employee professionalism, the JEDI platform and the GSA’s Unique Bidder Registry (RUL, in Spanish). In the category of opportunities, participants expressed the desire to improve delivery, invoicing, quoting and evaluation process.

Mercado-Rivera emphasized that the objective is to create responsive systems that meet the needs of the population served. 

“At this historic moment, when Puerto Rico is in a reconstruction phase, it is vital to continue transforming digital systems in agencies, avoiding ‘canned’ methods and solutions that foster bureaucracy rather than solving it, prolonging processes and reducing visibility and transparency,” Mercado-Rivera stated. “By integrating the needs of government employees and the private industry with international best practices, we are working together to achieve a responsive and truly effective process.

“As the government’s chief procurement officer, I bear the great responsibility of ensuring that everything related to public procurement is done correctly, transparently and efficiently. I am deeply committed to taking the lead in ensuring that investments made in various areas yield results, guarantee agility and the openness that citizens expect and deserve,” she said.

Mercado-Rivera pointed out that a central  GSA objective is to increase companies’ interest in government procurement so the government can broaden its supplier base and receive a greater number of offers for new products and services at competitive prices. She added that the procurement reform by the GSA will ensure prompt payment to suppliers.

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