Multiple layers of approval. Unclear, fluctuating prices. Wasted time and resources. Do these procurement headaches sound familiar?
Fortunately, there are a variety of purchase agreements that make procurement faster and simpler while saving government organizations – and, by extension, taxpayers – millions of dollars each year. With purchase agreements, you can have the right product selected, purchased and installed in less time than it would ordinarily take to get just one supervisor’s approval.
There are many types of purchase agreements, and each one has its own benefits and processes. Read on to learn how three major types can resolve your biggest procurement problems.
Cooperative Contracts (Co-ops)
What it is: Cooperative contracts are competitively solicited and awarded agreements made between a public sector agency and a private company by a third party via a request for approval (RFP). The public sector agency gets a viable contract with a vetted vendor who complies with all regulations. Pricing is discounted and freight is typically free.
Agencies also get much greater flexibility to choose a preferred vendor — even if that vendor doesn’t have the lowest bid or didn’t put in a bid at all. Because of this, agencies can select higher-quality products and services while simultaneously enjoying a smoother and faster procurement process.
This is made possible by third parties who work as a valuable intermediary, connecting end users to the needs of their supplier pool. For example, OMNIA Partners, Public Sector (formerly U.S. Communities) is the nation’s largest and most experienced cooperative purchasing organization for public sector procurement, working with 90,000+ agencies.
How it works: A public sector agency issues a bid that private businesses compete for. Then, a third party markets the competitively bid contract to other public sector agencies nationally. When a group of interested agencies has been formed, the third party matches the group with relevant private vendors who respond to the bid, leveraging the buying power of the group to get lower prices.
Why go through the RFP process on your own when you don’t have to? Register with OMNIA Partners, Public Sector online for free and start taking advantage of their contracts and trusted vendors right away.
“In the traffic industry, it’s no secret that most traffic engineers and transportation planners know the product they want...” said Andrew Dillard, Transportation Manager for Danville, California. “So, the [TAPCO and OMNIA Partners, Public Sector] partnership really streamlines the process and allows you to get the product you researched.”
Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)
What it is: BPAs are agreements between government bodies and a specific manufacturer or distributor that make it easy to fulfill recurring product needs. Government bodies can efficiently purchase repeat products according to their specific requirements while leveraging special discounts and minimizing paperwork. Plus, government bodies don’t have to deal with multiple vendors, enjoying the convenience of a one-stop shop.
For years, many government bodies have leveraged this type of agreement to work with TAPCO as their trusted supplier. They simply request a quote, validate the needed product is available on contract and promptly move forward with a purchase.
How it works: After allocating funding for the agreement, a government body references the same PO number each time they purchase a new item from the agreement’s vendor. Items can vary tremendously, but as long as the vendor can fulfill the request, the government body can use that funding. Get started by examining the funds your organization spent in previous years on specific product categories and identifying a relevant vendor with competitive pricing. Then, work with that vendor to create a BPA.
Want to establish a BPA with TAPCO? Let us know!
General Services Administration (GSA) Contracts
What it is: The GSA is the federal government’s procurement expert. Its contracts streamline federal procurement “by negotiating multi-user contracts and by leveraging the volume of the federal market to drive down prices,” according to the GSA website. The GSA awards contracts to government bodies to supply products on available GSA Schedules, which house different types of products. As a result, government bodies get GSA-negotiated prices from approved sources issuing competitive bids, plus the flexibility to “purchase from approved industry partners, at any time, for any reason, using any funds available.”
The service is intended for any federal agency with access to the GSA Advantage program; however, two federal acts have allowed state and local governments to access and purchase from this service as well. The only limitation is that they must pay with a state or local government-issued credit card.
How it works: A federal government body can place orders against these contracts in multiple ways, including online, by phone, by contacting vendors directly, through customer representatives and more.
Purchase agreements streamline the procurement process start to finish, saving everyone time and money, ensuring transparency and providing peace of mind.