George Schutter, Former Chief Procurement Officer at the District of Columbia, discusses leading a procurement function at the heart of North America’s historic capital.

“The District of Columbia is a fascinating jurisdiction and I believe it is the most complex in the whole of the United States,” states George Schutter, Former Chief Procurement Officer and Director of the District.

As the seat of the US federal government, Washington D.C. stands as one of the most important world political capitals and is one of the most visited cities in the US with an average of over 20 million visitors every year. Indeed, for Schutter, he had the fascinating role of leading his organisation’s procurement function in a dynamic and unique environment prior to leaving in April 2023.

Inside key projects

One of the major projects he has overseen during his tenure has been the construction of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge which opened in late 2021. The bridge, which is located 20ft away from the original one, includes three above-deck arches, four pedestrian overlooks and two piers which seem to float in the Anacostia waterfront. The bridge has six traffic lanes and improved access for pedestrians and bicycles. The bridge’s design allows a smoother flow of traffic on both sides of the river and in front of the Air Force base. “Our largest infrastructure project over the last number of years was the Frederick Douglass Bridge,” affirms Schutter. “It’s beautiful and it’s a great thoroughfare for commerce. That project was very interesting because the District was really looking for an iconic bridge that would enhance the skyline.”

Schutter says his team’s procurement approach was initially to work with artists on a design and have an initial review of what looked the best from a minimal design standpoint before shortlisting. “We shortlisted down to three different teams of firms that would be able to build a bridge such as the one that we’re looking to do,” he adds. “And actually, we offered a cash incentive to stay in and to bid.  The incentive allowed us to use aspects of all three of the proposals towards the design before whittling it down to one. It was a very innovative approach supported by artists and our Department of Transportation engineers as clients. It was a great project that brought the stakeholders of the District together and created a beautiful bridge in the end.”

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