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Director of state procurement resigns to become associate general counsel for University of Arkansas

March 13, 2024

by Michael R. Wickline | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

University of Arkansas students are shown on the lawn in front of Old Main on the campus in Fayetteville in this file photo.
University of Arkansas students are shown on the lawn in front of Old Main on the campus in Fayetteville in this file photo.

The director of the Office of State Procurement, Ed Armstrong, has submitted his resignation to become associate general counsel for the University of Arkansas System later this month.

As associate general counsel, Armstrong will focus on contracts, procurement, real estate, construction and other transactional issues within the UA System and its 21 campuses, divisions and units, said Nate Hinkel, a spokesman for the UA System.

Armstrong will fill a vacancy left by Patrick Hollingsworth, associate general counsel and former interim general counsel, who is retiring, Hinkel said.

Hinkel said Armstrong is expected to start March 23 and his salary will be $156,000 a year.

Armstrong is paid $150,000 a year as director of the Office of State Procurement, according to the Arkansas Transparency website.

Armstrong said in a letter dated March 5 to Department of Transformation and Shared Services Secretary Leslie Fisken that “We have accomplished a lot together in a relatively short time and with the Arkansas Forward initiative underway, you are on track to accomplish so much more!

“As much as I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with you, I have been presented with another exciting opportunity for professional growth,” he wrote in his letter. “Although I will always treasure the time I have had here, the time has come for me to enter the next phase of my public service career.”

Armstrong said he is resigning, effective March 22.

Alex Johnston, chief of staff for the state Department of Transformation and Shared Services, said Wednesday “we do not have a replacement yet.”

Armstrong is departing as the state’s procurement director for the second time.

He served as procurement director from February 2016 until December 2021 under then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson before becoming general counsel at Arkansas Tech University in January 2022. He returned to the state procurement director post in late February 2023 under Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Armstrong said Wednesday in a written statement, “I am very grateful to the Governor for the opportunity I have had to serve as State Procurement Director.

“That said, I am very excited about the prospect of serving the University of Arkansas System. I am thankful for the chance to be part of something so important to so many people,” he said.

Armstrong also served as a senior assistant attorney general from January 2013 through January 2016, a partner at Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP from March 2004 through December 2012, and a law clerk at the attorney general’s office from January 2003 through May 2003.

Armstrong’s departure comes after the Legislative Council last month signed off on the state Department of Transformation and Shared Service’s consulting contract for up to $5.5 million to help the state’s 15 executive branch agencies become more efficient and improve services with Washington, D.C.-based McKinsey & Co.

The contract with McKinsey & Co. is for one year, and “our priority within this is for the pay plan and the merit evaluation system for a recommendation to come to us by June 1,” Fisken told a legislative panel last month.

“There are estimates of approximately $500 million in savings; the majority of that is looking specifically at procurement with duplicative contracts [and] renegotiating contracts and also looking at the fleet vehicle management,” she said at that time.

Full article can be viewed HERE.

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