Since the 1960's, Harris County Department of Education has been providing cooperative purchasing services. Rebranded in 2012 as Choice Partners, the cooperative traces its history as one of the first, if not the first, government cooperative in Texas.
As a division of a government agency and former school district, Choice Partners contracts are awarded by the HCDE governing board of trustees. Interlocal government-to-government agreements are between HCDE and the government entity wishing to use the Choice Partners cooperative contract. Because Choice Partners is a division of Harris County Department of Education, it does not need an additional affiliation to make its operation legal. Some cooperatives are not based in a government entity, so must affiliate with one so they will have a government “lead agency.” Using that language, HCDE is the lead agency for Choice Partners.
HCDE merged their three procurement cooperatives into Choice Partners in 2012 to make purchasing even easier for their cooperative members. To optimize processes, Choice Facility Partners, HCDE Purchasing Cooperative and the Gulf Coast Food Co-op, were combined into Choice Partners national cooperative. Combining all contract procurement services for education, facilities, food, supplies and services, and technology makes it easy for client members to access the contracts they need.
Choice Partners national cooperative provides quality services, legal procurement and contract solutions for governmental entities, including school districts, private and charter schools, colleges and universities, municipalities, counties and nonprofits.
“Cooperative purchasing contracts are win-win-win,” said LesHooper, executive director, who led the merger of the three co-ops. “Our members benefit from the time and leveraged cost savings in procurement, our vendors benefit by having an awarded contract that has been competitively procured, and the cooperative wins by receiving a small percentage for their work in bidding, awarding and managing the contract.”
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