Buyers gather in Canada

Federal Government Procurement Conference of the Americas

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A three-day conference next week in Canada will bring together procurement officials and businesses from throughout the Americas, in an attempt to broaden and strengthen government procurement efforts.

Countries taking part include the United States, Canada, Mexico and several South American nations, said David Drabkin, deputy chief acquisition officer at the General Services Administration. The conference, called the Federal Government Procurement Conference of the Americas, takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Karl Reichelt, GSA's acting chief acquisition officer, said the conference is an opportunity to share experiences and attract newcomers to the procurement market in any or all of the participating countries.

"Convening government procurement executives and prime contractors in one place helps build relationships that create cooperative solutions to common problems, reduce business costs and, ultimately, strengthen procurement efficiency and effectiveness throughout the Americas," he said.

"GSA has been working for a number of years to try to establish relationships between the various purchasing activities in all of the Americas," Drabkin said. "We've enjoyed particularly close ties to the Canadian government."

However, the same relationship has not existed with Mexico and other Central and South American nations, he said.

"Now we're focused on trying to bring our colleagues south of the border into the same relationship," he said. "This conference is not an official function of the government, it's a getting together of procurement officials and companies. Our goal is to just create a dialogue, to share information about how we each buy from the private sector."

During the course of the meeting, GSA officials hope to get to know their counterparts in other government organizations, discuss procurement rules and processes, share best practices and lessons learned and to generally get a better understanding of how procurement is done elsewhere.

He stressed that the scope of the conference is limited to procurement matters. "We're not the State Department," he said.

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