Using data to give ‘buy local’ a boost

Name: Haley Kadish

Title: Performance & Innovation Officer

City: Albuquerque, N.M.

Now more than ever, city governments want to spend their money with local firms in order to boost struggling local economies. Haley Kadish has some advice for them: Get the data first.

That’s what supercharged the Buy Local initiative she leads in Albuquerque. Kadish built a data dashboard that allows city departments to see their local spend in real time. Having these numbers readily available is igniting friendly competition between departments to buy more from local firms. It’s also busting some myths about procurement.

For example, to Kadish’s surprise, the data showed that local vendors are doing just fine when it comes to competing on big procurements that require submitting complex proposals. Where there’s more room for local businesses, it turned out, is on smaller deals. That’s where departments have more discretion and can easily fall into a pattern of using the same vendor over and over, even if they’re out-of-state.

That insight has, for now, pointed Kadish away from a complex overhaul of the request-for-proposal process and toward simpler fixes like giving departments a directory of local businesses to consider purchasing with. “If they don’t know about local vendors, they’re not going to get quotes from local vendors,” she said. Next up, Kadish is hoping to work with departments to set realistic buy-local targets for each.

“Before, departments felt like they were being told to switch to local vendors, but they couldn’t tell where they were going wrong,” Kadish said. “Now they have the tools to fix it.”

Pro tip: “When trying to change a process in a big organization, try to find the person or department who has figured out how to maneuver through it, and then replicate what they’ve done.”

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