I'm new to government and was taken back by the purchasing process in my agency. I've been waiting on equipment to get ordered after it was approved for over 4 months. There are so many middle men that if one person is not doing their job the whole process stops. We now are in danger of losing the money that was assigned to us as we approach the end of the fiscal year.
This is an easy fix:
1) Make filling out the paper work clear by creating a website that walks you through it easily. I've had to redo my paper work 5 times because I was given misinformation consistently. Provide samples.
2) Have one person to interface with. They should just consult with you about the best places to order from to get the discount and verify your paper work.
3) IMPORTANT - Let each department order their own equipment. Give one person a credit card that stays in the office. Have them take classes on appropriate use of the card. Then if they abuse it, fire them. It's that easy.
I could have had my equipment a week after I picked it out if I had been allowed to order it myself and the cost I saved would have been almost the same. Instead I've had to waste time over the last four months trying to track down what's going on taking me away from work. Also, the equipment I've been waiting for would have made my job more efficient.
Government workers are not children and should not be treated as such. If you abuse a credit card then you should be fired. Don't punish everyone because of a few people.