Buyers should also carefully review the contract terms and conditions to ensure that they conform to legal and business requirements. Buyers should also analyze the procurement method used to establish the contract to ensure compliance with procurement laws and regulations. For example, competition may have been limited to suppliers registered with the cooperative contract authority or the contract may have been established using brand name only specifications or with no competition at all.
Start Your Own Cooperative Purchasing Program
Transportation programs and authorities have common needs that are unique to the transportation industry. Authorities can create market leverage by combining common requirements under cooperative contracts. There are many examples of school districts and local governments combining to form purchasing cooperatives. These cooperative endeavors often were started by a small group of visionary procurement officials participating in a networking session to establish the cooperative program and brainstorm opportunities. In its research paper, Strength in Numbers: An Introduction to Cooperative Procurements, the National Association of State Procurement Officials recommends the following best practices for forming a procurement cooperative:
- Designate a lead government with qualified procurement and technical staff as the lead government for the cooperative contract.
- Require that cooperative members sign an agreement to participate in the cooperative contract.
- Invite members from participating governments to participate in the drafting of the solicitation documents and the technical evaluation committee.
- Survey cooperative members for estimated requirements, delivery quantities and locations and other buying patterns.
- Identify the participating governments in the request for bids or proposals.
- Advertise the procurement in all of the participating communities.
- Ensure that the contracts are based on free and open competition and comply with the procurement laws of the participating governments.
- Ensure that the winning contractor is capable of serving all participants.
Most government procurement programs are stretched thin with increasing demand and limited resources. Cooperative procurement provides a way to leverage resources, reduce prices through economies of scale and provide better contracts. Cooperative contracts can help improve customer service by providing convenient and immediate sources for essential products and services.
John Adler is vice president, procurement for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).
National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO)
National Institute of Governmental Procurement (NIGP)
General Services Administration
State Procurement Offices