Becoming a Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) is no small task. To qualify, a buyer must demonstrate at least two years of public procurement experience and commensurate formal education, and pass a 3.5-hour, 175-question exam that has a nearly 30% fail rate. If successful, candidates must commit to a code of ethics and earn continuing education credits to maintain their credentials. In other words, achieving professional certification in procurement is a big accomplishment—one that all of Towson’s buying staff can claim.
Purchasing Agent Carol Wettersten is Towson’s newest certificant. After meeting the two-year tenure mark this summer, she took a CPPB exam prep course and sat for the exam in October. She received news of her passing score last month.
“Carol sat for—and passed—the exam in her first year of eligibility, which is commendable,” Procurement Director Lucy Slaich said. “We’re very proud.”
Carol, who also holds an MBA from the University of Louisville, joins colleagues Stuart Heilman, Barbara Hufnagel and Lorraine Ziara-Denmark, all of whom are CPPBs. Lucy and Associate Director Jeff Sutton hold senior certifications: Jeff is a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM); Lucy is a C.P.M. and Certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO). To the layman’s ear, this may just sound like alphabet soup, but its value to the university is substantial—beginning with assurance of good value for the increasingly scarce public funds available to TU.
Certification lends increased credibility with compliance officers and state oversight agencies, which helps ensure approval of contracts presented to the Board of Public Works and USM Board of Regents. The exam preparation and continuing education requirements enhance knowledge and self-confidence, enabling procurement staff to better balance the complex and conflicting issues in the contract award process.
“Procurement often faces difficult decisions,” Lucy said. “Certification helps us make sound, ethical choices from among the many variables involved.”
TU is the only institution in the USM where 100% of the buying staff is certified. Vice President James P. Sheehan said the distinction is an important one.
“There’s no doubt that having a 100% certified buying staff will enable Towson to have continued success and compliance within the purchasing process,” James said. “I commend the department on this great achievement.”
For more information on TU’s Procurement Department, go to http://www.towson.edu/adminfinance/fiscalplanning/procurement/.