News from President Toni Preckwinkle

Preckwinkle appoints leaders in procurement and contract compliance

Originally published December 21, 2010–County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has named two experienced leaders to head her purchasing team.

Maria De Lourdes Coss was selected to serve as the Purchasing Agent. E. LaVerne Hall will serve as Director of Contract Compliance.

Maria De Lourdes Coss most recently served as the Director of Purchasing at the University of Illinois – Chicago’s Office of Business & Financial Services. She also served as the Managing Deputy Procurement Officer for the City of Chicago’s Department of Procurement Services.

E. LaVerne Hall most recently served as the Director of the Office of Business Diversity for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). She also previously worked for Target Group, Inc as well as the Women’s Business Development Center.

“Lourdes and LaVerne truly reflect our commitment to bringing in talented, innovative leadership throughout the County,” said Preckwinkle. “They have been tasked with leading our purchasing team, which will immediately begin working to identify cost saving initiatives. Cost-effective and quicker purchasing of strategic items will save taxpayers millions of dollars in the first year. Over time, we will improve the purchasing process, help build a more responsive and effective purchasing function and improve relations with vendors.”

As Purchasing Agent, Coss is committed to working to reduce procurement costs through strategic sourcing, a key initiative from Preckwinkle’s transition report. Currently, standard items, such as desktop computers, are often purchased separately by each elected official. Pooling the purchasing power of all elected officials will enable the County to renegotiate with vendors for more favorable prices.

“I am excited about the opportunity and honored to join the Preckwinkle team,” Coss remarked on Tuesday.

Hall shares Preckwinkle’s commitment to the successful engagement and development of minority-and women-owned businesses. Halls’ focus will be to improve the current MBE/WBE program upon by expanding the amount of procurement that is tracked and focusing on metrics around capacity building and job creation within these businesses – instead of simply speaking to amounts contracted to these firms.

“The County can, and must, play a more active role in helping build minority-owned and women-owned businesses. Under my administration, minority-owned and women-owned businesses will see increased engagement from the County and be provided resources that will help see their businesses grow. We will be looking to establish partnerships with non-profit agencies focused on capacity building and job creation for MBEs and WBEs. By promoting contracting opportunities to MBE and WBEs, the County’s growth and economic stability is enhanced,” said Preckwinkle.

“I look forward to serving the citizens of Cook County. I am a small business advocate and I will play an active role in helping build minority and women owned businesses, particularly as it relates to job creation. We have the ability to set a new standard for supplier diversity programs and that’s a goal we’re going to strive for in the coming years,” said Hall.

Another key initiative in Preckwinkle’s transition report is to publish cross-County purchasing information. Under the leadership of Coss and Hall, as well as new Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly and Chief Information Officer Greg Wass, the County will publish up to date, easily accessibly information on bids and purchasing contracts across the County, including vendor information, goods and services purchased and contract terms.

“County residents should be able to find out where their taxes are going, including which vendors are receiving contracts and what the terms are. I hope that the other County elected officials will work with our new team to help us launch an innovative, new County purchasing website. I think this is an important step towards the transparency and accountability we need to restore the faith the Cook County government,” said Preckwinkle.