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Generative AI and Procurement Processes for Local Government

Generative AI is transforming various sectors, and local government procurement is no exception. Traditional procurement processes often rely on ITTs (Invitation to Tender) or RFPs (Request for Proposal), which are heavily based on detailed product specifications. However, this approach assumes a level of understanding about the solution that might not exist, especially with cutting-edge technologies like generative AI.

One of the main challenges with the traditional approach is that it presumes the problem and its solution are well-understood by those drafting the specification. In reality, emerging technologies are advancing so rapidly that it is unrealistic to expect any institution to have comprehensive expertise in every area. Even tech specialists are increasingly focusing on niche aspects of technology. Therefore, when it comes to problem-solving, the right answer might not be known, or at least not known to those writing the specification.

Instead of relying on a detailed tech spec, a more effective approach could be to outline the problem or the desired outcome and then seek solutions. This shift from a prescriptive method to an outcome-focused one allows for greater innovation and flexibility. By presenting the problem and the desired outcome in the procurement process, organisations can attract a wider range of innovative solutions.

Generative AI is particularly suited to this flexible approach due to its ability to perform a multitude of tasks. However, the choice of system will vary significantly based on the specific needs of the solution. For example, tools designed for personal productivity will differ greatly from those intended to ensure corporate consistency, especially in processes that might lead to judicial review.

To truly leverage the potential of generative AI, procurement needs to embrace innovation and start with the problem, not the solution. Recognising that there are unmet and unknown needs is crucial. There is a risk that overly prescriptive procurement processes could lead to solutions that do not address the real problems, causing a misalignment.

This period of rapid technological advancement presents a unique opportunity for procurement professionals to engage deeply with innovative technologies. By focusing on problems and desired outcomes, local governments can ensure they are getting the best value and most effective solutions for their organisations.

In future discussions, we will explore various methods and strategies to optimise procurement processes, harnessing the full potential of generative AI to achieve the best outcomes for local government and the communities they serve. Embracing this shift towards problem-oriented procurement will not only enhance the effectiveness of solutions but also foster a spirit of continuous improvement and innovation.


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