In its May 2009 report, Executive Partners, Inc. (EPI) recommended the City of DeKalb centralize its purchasing.

DeKalb never followed through. Now that the consultants have returned (as EPI/Crowe) they must repeat themselves.

Once again I offer a transcription, taken from the April 13 workshop between EPI/Crowe and City of DeKalb officials. And once again the speaker is my new BFF, Larry Kujovich of EPI/Crowe.

Here’s the setup. One of the council members is grumbling that the estimated yearly savings was determined by a benchmark instead of an actual invoice analysis.

I couldn’t consolidate by vendor what you spend, or by commodity. I was incapable of doing that because the system doesn’t allow me to do that right now. So for me to say, “Hey, if I go from Vendor A to Vendor B I’m gonna save “X” percent of this,” I couldn’t do that.

DeKalb’s expenditures are $12 million a year paid out to some 250 vendors and the benchmark for savings is 10%. Yet even though we could conceivably have saved something in the neighborhood of a million a year since the recommendation was first made, we couldn’t be bothered to set up the system for a proper analysis to find out.

To be fair, there appear to be related plans in the works as we speak. The monthly check register entries used to be displayed in chronological order, but new codes were instituted at the first of the year and purchases are now grouped by vendor each month. Budget account codes look different as well.

The code changes plus observations from the workshop video make me hopeful that support now exists for exploring a different system of procurement, and I’m glad. It’s a good sign. We seem to have ended up with a very competent set of department heads and if we can match them with the right city manager, it bodes well for the future of our community in these “flatlined” times.