The Purchasing Agent is responsible for all procurement, including the competitive bidding process, and for maintaining the inventory of county personal property.
Procurement is an essential county government business function.
Procurement activities, which are expenditures made to the private sector for the purchase of goods and services, result in the second largest expenditure of taxpayers' dollars. The largest dollars are for personal services that are paid out in the form of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.
The integrity and efficiency of the county procurement process is a crucial component of its credibility. More public officials have been criticized for real or perceived conflicts of interest in the spending of public funds than on any other financial activity. Even with the knowledge of such potential criticism, public officials often misunderstand procurement's significant budgetary and public relations importance.
Even the perception of public officials misusing the procurement process for personal or political gain threatens the public's confidence in its government. Therefore, the commissioner's court, all public officials, and the purchasing agent must ensure a high standard of professional ethics in all personnel who participate in, or who can influence those involved in, making procurement decisions.
The relationship between the purchasing agent and Commissioners' Court is a unique one. On the one hand, the purchasing agent is a customer service function for Commissioners' Court and is responsible for ensuring that all county offices have the goods and services they need to perform the essential functions of their missions. On the other hand, the purchasing agent is an expenditure control function, responsible for supervising the commissioner's courts' contracting authority and ensuring compliance with the County Purchasing Act. This unique relationship lends credence to the notion that the purchasing agent is an independent officer of the county.