Skip to main content

Understanding the Role of the Government Procurement Specialist

Understanding the Role of the Government Procurement Specialist

Few government agencies can carry out their missions without the need to purchase goods and services from private suppliers. The federal government awards hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts annually, with many federal agencies having budgets comparable to Fortune 100 companies. State and local governments are also significant purchasers of goods and services, and they are often the largest employer and driver of economic activity within their jurisdictions.

All of this purchasing occurs through contracts negotiated with private suppliers in a highly regulated environment. Laws and regulations in place at the federal and state level dictate how goods and services can be purchased, the private sources from which government entities can acquire goods and services, and the dollar amounts that can be expended. Finally, each contract for the procurement of goods and services must be tailored to the specific public purpose being advanced by that procurement.

The government procurement specialist position can be highly complex and demanding, due to the twin requirements of maintaining subject-matter mastery and keeping up to date with the ever-changing laws that govern procurement processes. Successful government procurement specialists have a deep knowledge of the laws regulating government purchasing activities, an understanding of their agency’s mission, and the ability to negotiate highly complex contracts that advance the government’s objectives in a lawful manner.

As a result, government procurement specialists occupy a critical role within the governmental entities they serve. Although the responsibilities of the government procurement specialist will differ from agency to agency, they are generally responsible for:

  • Understanding the legal and technical requirements of each procurement
  • Assisting agency heads with the development of acquisition strategies
  • Negotiating the terms of contracts with all private suppliers
  • Evaluating cost estimates provided by bidders and other potential contractors
  • Reviewing statements of work submitted by contractors
  • Performing due diligence before entering into the contract
  • Performing ongoing contract administration by determining contractor compliance with all terms and conditions of the contract
  • Negotiating cost, price or technical changes
  • Approving payments to the contractor
  • Ensuring that the government agency has met all legal compliance requirements for each contracted procurement

The University of Dayton School of Law Government Contracting and Procurement Program gives students the skills and subject-matter expertise they need to excel in these roles while conferring a Master in the Study of Law degree.

Government Procurement and the Law

The law pertaining to government acquisitions is a dynamic and complex array of statutes, regulations, and executive orders that are subject to change depending on prevailing economic conditions and the shifting operational needs of government agencies. Major laws at the federal level include:

Taken together, these laws and regulations define the legal compliance environment in which all government procurement specialists must operate.

Procurement Specialist Salary Ranges

Government contracting and procurement specialists occupy positions with high levels of trust and responsibility within the federal government, and they are compensated accordingly. The contract specialist category is the most common job position, and it is usually filled at the GS-11 level. Salaries for GS-11 positions currently range from $75,000 to $97,000 for employees working in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Other common procurement specialist positions are contractor administrator, contracting officer, and procurement analyst. The position of contracting officer, which requires a significant level of experience and training, typically begins at the GS-12 level. Contracting officers at the GS-12 level in Chicago, for example, earn salaries in the $88,000 to $114,000 range.

For federal government employees already at a GS-11 or GS-12 level, the University of Dayton School of Law Government Contracting and Procurement Program can help them meet GS-13 classification requirements and a significant increase in compensation. Contracting specialists at the GS-13 level in Los Angeles, for example, earn $108,000 annually at the low end of the federal pay scale to $141,000 for highly qualified and experienced employees.

Who Can Benefit From the Government Contracting and Procurement Master’s Degree?

The backgrounds of individuals serving government procurement roles are as broad as the government itself. Former military personnel are in demand to administer acquisition operations within the U.S. Department of Defense. Agencies with science-driven missions such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency are seeking to fill procurement roles with individuals possessing science backgrounds. And persons with political science, mathematics, and computer science backgrounds are desirable in contracting and procurement roles across the government.

The University of Dayton Law School’s Government Contracting and Procurement Program meets the growing demand for individuals with specialized legal training in government procurement laws and regulations, as well as contract negotiation and project management skills.

For anyone who enjoys working in a field where knowledge of the law is important but is not interested in earning a J.D. degree, the University of Dayton School of Law Government Contracting and Procurement Program could be the catalyst that jumpstarts or advances a career in the government contracting and procurement field.

Government Contracting Program Banner

Government Contracting and Procurement Program


Phone: (937) 229-1501


Government Contracting and Procurement

Keller Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2772