Meet 65 vendors with government-awarded contracts at exhibit
One of the challenges procurement professionals face is recommending contract awards that provide best value at the lowest possible cost. Sometimes details of the purchase are so technical that it can be difficult to explain in a few minutes why the very lowest bid might not have been the one that was recommended. In addition, school board trustees are sometimes pressured to award contracts to specific companies. Ultimately, procurement officials benefit from transparency in the evaluation and award criteria used and from ensuring that all contract awards follow competitive bidding laws.
The actual cost of procurement includes the time required to do necessary research, determine if a contract exists that can be used by the district or if an original RFP must be issued. In the August/September 2014 issue of Government Procurement, an article on spend analysis [“Define saving to show value” ] clarifies the difference between savings that release cash (the item was purchased at a lower price) versus savings that are non-cash releasing (they save time and resources or provide more services for the same price.)
Using cooperative purchasing contracts awarded through a competitive procurement process can help.
TRANSPARENT AWARDS INSPIRE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Using cooperatives provides transparency for school districts. Allegations of inappropriately awarding a contract to a vendor are nonexistent when using a cooperative contract, since the cooperative is responsible for the research, development of the RFP, advertising, evaluation and award. All the district needs to do is ask the cooperative for evidence of the due diligence for the competitive bid/proposal. Some cooperatives work to award regional contracts throughout Texas, providing the slightly smaller or regional companies an opportunity to work with governmental entities in their area.
SELECTING THE COOPERATIVE CONTRACT
Frequently, once a procurement professional discovers the benefits of shared services through a cooperative, they may propose that the board approve interlocal contracts with multiple procurement cooperatives. Cooperatives may have an area of specialization, from acquisition of technology, commodity supplies or specialty items to facility services contracts. While procurement cooperatives generally have similar missions, they operate slightly differently. Districts should ensure that each cooperative can provide evidence of the due diligence for each contract and are willing to provide details of the contract for their members when it is requested. Because each RFP and awarded contract differ, it is important for the school district business official to know what the terms and conditions of the awarded contracts are. For example, if a district is ordering an item that requires installation, does the cooperative contract include that? Does it include shipping? Does the cooperative allow the vendors to negotiate a lower price?
Cooperatives may award multiple contracts in one category if the evaluation justifies it. This may include a best-value proposal that is not the lowest price, but is extremely competitive, with added value items and a higher quality product / service. Also, because of the cost to the proposer to go through the bidding process, one-shot responses to a RFP/bid may be higher than the pricing the vendor might offer to a cooperative. Consequently, districts can frequently get a better value with a cooperative than they could get by independently doing a RFP or bid, which becomes a cost savings that releases cash.
In the article “Selecting the right cooperative contract” in the Feb/March 2012 issue of Government Procurement, Wayne Casper, group director-west of the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance and retired procurement director of the state of Arizona and the city of Tucson, Ariz., suggested that three elements be considered in addition to price when choosing a cooperative contract: process, competitiveness and transparency.
LEARN FIRST-HAND ABOUT COOPERATIVE CONTRACTS
Purchasing professionals can see value and savings face-to-face at the Annual Vendor Exhibit sponsored by HCDE Choice Partners national cooperative on Oct. 31, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Houston. More than 65 vendors will showcase their products and services, from facilities services to educational materials, food service supplies and technology.
Choice Partners Director Derek Gillard says it is a great option for purchasing staff.
“Seldom do purchasing people have time to visit with vendors or even get out of the office, so it is a good opportunity for them to meet with vendors, put a face with the voice and build relationships," said Gillard. “It maximizes their time out of the office by seeing 65 vendors all at once. Just like our co-op, it is a time savings. They can learn about new vendors and their products and services all in one place on one day.”
Learn more details about the event or call 877-696-2122 for more information about Choice Partners cooperative.