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An office of procurement is a department within a company, government, or institution which is responsible for acquiring things. Essentially, an office of procurement is the buyer for the organization it supports, although procedures in the office go far beyond mere purchases. As a general rule, any major purchase or acquisition needs to be processed by the office of procurement, although individual departments may be given small discretionary budgets for minor purchases. The goal of creating a unified purchasing office which covers an entire organization is to save money in the long term, using a variety of techniques.
At a minimum, an office of procurement is responsible for meeting the needs of people within the organization it represents by filling purchase orders. Offices of procurement can obtain equipment, supplies, and services, ranging from pens for desks to rocket ships. However, offices of procurement do much more than simply buying things. They seek out the best deals, negotiate contracts, put contracts up for bid to offer other companies an opportunity to meet the needs of their parent organizations, and work with various companies on custom projects. A rocket ship, for example, is a rather specialized item which isn't the sort of thing one can order from an office supply company.
Typically, the office of procurement also establishes policies and procedures relating to procurement. For example, a state office may set general policies, with individual districts within the state taking care of their own procurement needs. These policies are designed to ensure that costs are kept low and that people use standardized equipment and supplies for convenience. For example, government agencies may be encouraged to contact other agencies to see if they have used equipment for sale before purchasing used equipment on the open market.
The office of procurement is usually staffed by a large group of people, including procurement officers. In a big company, officers may specialize in particular types of procurement needs. For example, someone might focus solely on meeting the need for office supplies, or on working with scientists to obtain laboratory equipment and scientific instruments used in research. These employees can also enforce policies, and may perform audits to confirm that people are adhering to the standards their offices have set.
Working in an office of procurement can be challenging and interesting. For people who enjoy tracking down sources of materials, solving mysteries, and managing large inventories of supplies, this kind of work can be very engaging. Procurement officers need to be skilled at multi-tasking, able to hunt tirelessly for specific products, and good with people, as a lot of the work in procurement involves talking with people in various positions to accomplish a common goal.
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