On May 27, 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel convened the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (PRTF). PRTF was co-chaired by the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) and the Inspector General (OIG) for the City of the Chicago, and included the CEO, Executive Director, or Chancellor of six of the City’s sister agencies: the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), the Chicago Park District (Parks), and the Public Building Commission (PBC). PRTF undertook a six-month project to identify opportunities for these entities (collectively, the Participating Members) to implement, in a uniform manner, best practices for awarding, managing, and overseeing public contracts. The Task Force’s mission was to maximize operational efficiency, increase accountability, and economize public funds.
On November 17, 2015, PRTF reported its findings, grouped into five categories representing essential principles of government procurement: competition, efficiency, transparency, integrity, and uniformity. The Task Force also made recommendations designed to advance these principles, a 31-point blueprint for refining and standardizing the Participating Members’ procurement operations. The recommendations in the 2015 Report of the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (2015 PRTF Report) fall into three categories: the first 15 were proposed for immediate implementation (i.e., by March 31, 2016); the next 12 for “mid-term” implementation (by December 31, 2016); and last 4 for “long-term” implementation (in “2017 and beyond”).
Pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement executed under the authority of an ordinance passed by City Council and approved by the Mayor in January 2016, the Participating Members fulfilled PRTF’s Recommendation #1 by creating a committee of CPOs (CPO Committee), and charging it with addressing the Task Force’s recommendations, tracking their implementation, and issuing quarterly and annual reports. The ordinance also directed the Members to begin work on Recommendation #5 by establishing a committee of Chief Information Officers (the Chicago Government IT Coordination Committee, or ITCC) to manage the technical aspects of the implementation process, and directed OIG to prepare and publish, within 90 days following the issuance of each CPO Committee Annual Report, an independent evaluation of the Members’ progress toward implementing the recommendations.
On March 1, 2017, the CPO Committee issued the 2016 Annual Report of the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (2016 Annual Report), indicating that the Participating Members had addressed, in whole or part, 27 of the 31 recommendations. On May 30, 2017, OIG issued its First Annual Progress Report on the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (First Annual Progress Report). Our review revealed that the Members had fully addressed 7 of the PRTF recommendations, formulated policies and processes for implementing 7 others, partially addressed an additional 13, and not yet begun to address the remaining 4. OIG suggested that the CPO Committee set target completion deadlines for the 24 open recommendations.
On March 1, 2018, the CPO Committee issued the 2017 Annual Report of the Chicago Procurement Reform Task Force (2017 Annual Report), indicating that the Participating Members had fully addressed 11 more recommendations (bringing the completed total to 18) and partially addressed the remaining 13. OIG’s independent review concludes that the Members have fully addressed 7 of the recommendations that remained open at the time of our First Annual Progress Report (bringing the completed total to 14) and partially implemented 15 others, and that 2 of the recommendations remain in the “process completed; implementation ongoing” category. Below, we briefly summarize and evaluate the steps taken on each recommendation.
We note here, as we did in our First Annual Progress Report, that while the Participating Members have not strictly complied with the implementation timetable set in the 2015 PRTF Report, they are making steady progress toward achieving the Task Force’s goals. Significantly, the CPO Committee has now set target deadlines for completing each of the remaining recommendations. If the Members meet these deadlines, they will complete 11 of the open recommendations before we issue our Third Annual Progress Report in 2019. Based on that projection, OIG’s Third Annual Report will additionally assess whether, and the extent to which, implemented recommendations are fully operational. We therefore strongly encourage the Members to take all necessary and appropriate steps in the coming year to prepare for this additional assessment, and look forward to confirming the completion of the remaining recommendations in this continuing effort to establish standard-setting national best practices in municipal procurement.