Interview with Ryan A. Murray, New York City Mayor's Office of Contract Services

Ryan Murray, First Deputy Director in the Mayor's Office of Contract Services for the City of New York

Ryan A. Murray is the First Deputy Director in the Mayor's Office of Contract Services for the City of New York. He manages an oversight and service agency that was responsible for $21 billion in procurement in FY17. New York City operates a federated model with an estimated 2,000 staff and evolving technology landscape. Mr. Murray leads the people and change practice, serves as the chief strategy officer and guides the legislative/policy agenda for the Mayor's Office of Contract Services.

Mr. Murray, who provided the keynote presentation at the New York City CPO Meet and Eat, shares how he is leading the transformation journey for the Mayor's Office of Contract Services to make the procurement and sourcing functions more efficient.  

What kind of transformation did you help the Mayor’s Office achieve and how was success measured?

Doing business with the City should be easy and internal city procurement operations should be efficient. Disparate practices across industries, a federated model, rigid bureaucratic rules and heavy reliance on paper processes impede the realization of quality experience by vendors and agencies. That’s why we are implementing a multi-year project to overhaul operations. In 2017 we reached the first critical milestone by launching the Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal (PASSPort). Together with our technology and implementation partners, we introduced centralized supplier management, moving a cumbersome vendor disclosures process online, establishing a shared platform for data sharing across agencies and allowing vendors to access contract performance data in the same portal. This success enables us to develop and launch requisitioning, sourcing and payment modules in the next two years.

What is your advice for winning over internal stakeholders?

Four things seem to be consistently needed:

1. Be clear about the problem(s) you are trying to solve and build a shared understanding of contributing issues and their impact on each stakeholder’s bottom line. (This also means letting folks know what you’re not working on.)
2. Take the time to understand your colleagues’ interests and establish milestones for everyone to work toward. Don’t expect to get buy-in after one go or project phase; this will be iterative and will require persistence, heavy investments in communications, lots of candor and transparency.
3. Make collaboration easy. Structure your project team to do the heavy lifting and make asks/expectations very clear.
4. And don’t forget to celebrate – both the little wins and yes, those big audacious goals. All the celebration and acknowledgment will pay dividends for future phases or projects.

How do you see technology impacting or transforming the way you do business?

Technology is as smart as you make it. When you spend time thinking about what you need systems to do, you unpack longstanding assumptions and look for efficiencies. You are forced to fully document processes and dependencies and find opportunities to simplify workflow and improve peoples’ experience. You take bolder actions and adopt a more transformative vision with technology-enabled projects, unleashing your team’s creativity and forcing decision-makers to articulate what matters most (since you don’t have infinite resources). Establishing central platforms where data are shared and transactions can easily take place increases opportunities for collaboration, improves communication and if done right speeds workflow. This can all increase the time available for higher-value tasks, project management and long-range planning. You can free your personnel – especially managers – to squarely focus on mission-critical activities. 

What are the core skills needed for someone to be successful in your role?

The organization’s success relies on the coordinated efforts of multiple senior and executive-level staff and their teams. You have to remain humble and let folks lead where they feel they strongly have the capacity to do so. It is always important to listen for the nuggets of wisdom that can emerge from stakeholders and be able to structure productive collaboration. Teams sometimes prioritize different measures of success and work differently (and that’s okay). To be successful at this scale you have to make sure there is a shared vision, common analysis of the key pain points, and establish processes for everyone to share insights, express differences and still collaborate on critical goals…going well beyond just jointly executing discrete tasks.



Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Specialist

Stacy Mendoza is a Digital Marketing Specialist with Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). Stacy began her career in market research as an editor for Hart Research Associates in Washington, D.C. Since moving back to Florida in 2014, she has worked in marketing and public relations, specializing in content creation, media relations and crisis communications. Stacy is a passionate volunteer who donates her time to help nonprofits develop marketing strategies and awareness campaigns. Since joining SIG, Stacy has taken a strong interest in advocating for more transparent supply chains to expose the exploitation of workers and the environment. Stacy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Follow her on Twitter and tweet at @SIG_Stacy.