It’s been 70 years since George Cronin envisioned the creation of a professional organization of state purchasing officials focused on effectively addressing the issues of public procurement.
Today, the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) is leading the way in the advancement of public procurement, and assisting members in achieving success as public procurement professionals remains at the very core of what we do.
You, our members, have supported NASPO from its inception, and continue that support as we celebrate our 70th anniversary. We hope you enjoy this remembrance of the past 70 years, and are proud of how far we have come as an organization. In September at the Annual Conference, a more comprehensive, printed version of the history will be available for members as a keepsake.
During the early years of NASPO, leaders kept their eyes on the integrity of the task -- the application and implementation of fundamentals while combating forces and actions that could erode integrity, such as collusive bidding, "most-favored customer" pricing, fair trade laws, the federal multiple award philosophy, interpretation of the Robinson-Patman Act, and geographic preferences. During this period, NASPO identified itself and established the best principles and practices of public purchasing.
During the 1950s, annual meetings helped NASPO establish an identity. Shortcomings in government procurement during World War I led both the federal government and the states to adopt legislation updating purchasing practices. From this common departure point, the federal government and the states took divergent paths still evident today.
In the decade of the 60s, federal funding of state and local government programs had grown to the point that Congress, the General Accounting Office and the U.S. Department of Justice sought reassurance that the money was wisely spent, free of fraud and corruption.
By the early 70s, fair trade laws were essentially eliminated. Amendments to state statutes resulted from cooperation between NASPO members and state legislators.
Alternative deliveries of services, particularly changes within the scope of public purchasing, were the prime issues of the 1980s. In the early 80s, NASPO was invited by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Library of Congress to conduct a study, which lead to best ideas and practices in the 50 states.
In the 1990s, NASPO became engrossed with technology and the influence of technology on procurement processes. Multi-state cooperative contracting also began to take shape in the mid-1990s with the establishment of the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA), a program NASPO formed through an agreement between the chief procurement officers from 15 western states.
Throughout the 2000s, the size and complexity of the cooperative contract portfolio increased. In 2007, all 50 states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to establish a NASPO Procurement Cooperative as a mechanism for states to “join together in cooperative, multi-state contracting, consistent with their respective procurement laws, where cooperative procurement is considered advantageous to the Participating States.”
In the current decade, NASPO is focused on helping its members achieve success through the promotion of best practices, education, professional development, research and innovative procurement strategies.