In Brief: Cooperative Procurement’s Evolution

A recent survey conducted by enterprise software provider Deltek reported “nearly 40 percent of agency buyers and procurement staff are overworked.” We’re not surprised. The public procurement process requires due diligence, taking time and resources that are often already in short supply.

In their search for the best value per taxpayer dollar, public procurement teams have been turning to cooperative purchasing networks. We’re far from the time when cooperative purchasing dealt exclusively with commodities. Now, cooperatives offer a variety of labor-based solutions, including Job Order Contracting (JOC) for construction procurement. The expansion of services and growing adoption of cooperative contracts has resulted in a process with advantages essential for today’s government leaders.

In a recent article and cover feature for Government Procurement magazine, Tammy Rimes, Executive Director of the National Cooperative Procurement Partners (NCPP), discussed the evolution of cooperative procurement.

A Simple Idea to Conquer Complex Demands

Simply put, cooperative purchasing is when one public agency competitively bids and establishes a contract available for other government agencies to “piggyback” or adopt as their own.

Tammy notes the advantages are twofold. “1) price savings due to the increased leverage of combined spend from multiple agencies and 2) the savings in time and resources realized by the piggybacking agency in having the contract already solicited and awarded.”

Traditional construction procurement has a reputation for being unnecessarily expensive, inflexible and inefficient. Using cooperative purchasing for procuring construction services can streamline an otherwise burdensome process. For example, by utilizing Job Order Contracting (JOC) contracts through cooperatives, government officials save valuable time with access to competitively-awarded, local contractors available to start work immediately.

Texas Goes Big with Construction Procurement Through Cooperatives

Budgets are tight.  A lack of resources, funds or both can cause smaller renovation and alteration projects to threaten the safety and quality of life for residents. The City of Lubbock, Texas, had a growing backlog of deferred maintenance projects with limited competition amongst construction contractors. The city discovered Job Order Contracting as a simple method to expedite the repairs. They were able to access Gordian’s ezIQC® solution through, a cooperative purchasing network for the area.

By establishing local, competitively-awarded contracts through cooperative purchasing networks, ezIQC allows work to immediately begin on facility and infrastructure repairs, renovations, alterations and modernizations. Wes Everett, the Director of Facilities says, “With ezIQC, we get fair prices and the best quality for every tax-payer dollar that we’re spending for the City of Lubbock.”

Since introducing ezIQC more than a decade ago, Lubbock has completed 725 construction projects totaling more than $14 million.

The Future of Cooperative Purchasing

Cooperative procurement is now recognized as a best practice and the industry is expanding to increase procurement services. Tammy adds, “there has been evolution within the cooperative industry itself.” This year alone, large cooperative purchasing networks are rebranding, making acquisitions and merging or even narrowing their focus to better meet the needs of government procurement teams.”

Formed in 2016, the NCPP advocates for cooperative procurement and serves as a valuable resource center to educate the public. As their Executive Director, Tammy says, “NCPP strives to keep abreast of all activities related to cooperative procurement and to serve as a free resource in this ever-developing marketplace.”

Read the full article for more information about how the role of cooperative procurement is changing to meet government procurement needs.