Without Gary Hansen and the Purchasing Services Department
, there would not be any crayons for coloring, computers in the classroom or toilet paper in the bathrooms. In fact, there wouldn’t be any school buildings at all.
Those are just some of the things the Purchasing Services Department obtains for the District — but, really, there isn’t anything in all of Canyons’ schools and buildings that doesn’t include the Purchasing Services Department.
Hansen recently received the 2014 Professional Public Manager of the Year Award for Outstanding Public Service from the Utah Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. Also, in honor of National Procurement Month, which takes place in March every year, Gov. Gary Herbert declared March 16-22 as Purchasing Recognition Week.
“I’ve been in procurement now for 25 years, with only the last nine years being in school districts,” Hansen says as he talks about his award. “But the most important thing I like about my job is I get the opportunity on a weekly basis to see that my team and I have made a difference.”
Hansen isn’t one to toot his own horn, but he acknowledges the enormity of overseeing all of the District’s purchases, and making sure that transactions are conducted legally and transparently. For Hansen, that means working all day and many nights and weekends. The stakes are high — not only for the needs of the students and professionals in Canyons District, but for the legal requirements that change frequently and have stiff consequences, including jail time, if they are broken.
“The law tells us exactly what we can do, and it’s different than what we would do in our own personal purchases,” Hansen says. The purpose of the strict laws is to give everyone an opportunity to do business with a government entity that operates on public funds, Hansen says. The process is sometimes lengthy — purchases over $2,000 require an open process that allows vendors to compete for the District’s business.
From July 2014, to March, Hansen’s department has purchased 144,000 crayons, 25,308 rolls of toilet paper and 239,102,070 sheets of paper. The purchasing staff members have helped 1,775 students with travel arrangements, audited $3.3 million in purchasing card transactions and executed over $20 million in construction contracts — all while saving more than $5 million. In the last several years the department has purchased some 26,000 iPads, Chrome books, Apple and PC computers.
“We are here to answer questions and we’re here to support the mission of the District,” Hansen says. “We will get you the right product at the right price at the right time. … Students need to have what students need to have. We can’t be without computers and we can’t be without toilet paper. We make those things happen with transparency.”