The Chief Procurement Office for Higher Education (CPO-HE or CPO) works with the State's public universities to meet their procurement needs free of undue influence through independent authority, oversight and approval. The CPO for Higher Education further works with the universities to continually improve procurement policies and to establish best practices that recognize the specific needs of the universities in relation to their role and importance to the State of Illinois.
The position of the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) was created by the General Assembly pursuant to Public Act 96-795. The Executive Ethics Commission appoints the CPO with the advice and consent of the Illinois Senate. Confirming the independent role, the CPO is appointed to a term of five years and cannot be removed except for cause after a hearing.
The CPO exercises independent procurement authority under the Illinois Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500) on behalf of and for the benefit of public institutions of higher education (state universities) and the Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy.
While retaining procurement authority, the CPO exercises this authority through independent State Purchasing Officers (SPOs) who report to the CPO. Each SPO is appointed to a five-year term and cannot be removed except for cause after a hearing. The SPOs have general direct oversight of the procurement activities of the university and give approval to proceed at various stages of the process. The SPOs work in close conjunction with university purchasing staff to meet the needs of the university.
To help ensure compliance with laws and rules, and to help address issues of fraud, waste, and abuse, Procurement Compliance Monitors (PCMs) review transactional practices and report findings to the CPO.
Each university employs one or more purchasing directors and professional staff to manage and implement the procurement process within the university setting in accordance with direction from the SPO. The purchasing directors and staff are key to the success of the procurement process and their roles and expertise are respected by the CPO and SPO.
The CPO-HE strives to continuously improve all aspects of the procurement process. Our vision is to:
- review procurement laws, associated rules, policies and procedures and propose changes that increase efficiency while maintaining trust and transparency;
- have a set of procurement guidelines and associated forms that are comprehensive and easy to understand;
- modernize the procurement system by instituting practical electronic measures including electronic bidding and data analytics; and
- have a permanent training program for staff to ensure we have the most knowledgeable workforce possible and to extend training to vendors to ensure they have maximum opportunity and potential to successfully contract with the universities.
The CPO-HE operates with the following principles underlying all activities: legal compliance, fair treatment, need-based decision-making, diversity, integrity, transparency and value.