Cooperative purchasing programs seeing double-digit growth
Texas’ TCPN joins two other major programs to form independent alliance
Procurement through cooperative purchasing among public entities has enjoyed double-digit growth since last year. Government officials – from public schools to cities, counties, nonprofits and institutions of higher education – are leveraging the purchasing power of thousands of government entities through shared contracts that allow them to cut costs significantly and stretch taxpayer dollars. It’s no small wonder that the growth of cooperative purchasing programs has exploded over the last decade.
Cooperative contracting involves one agency taking the lead on a procurement and awarding a contract to a vendor. Then, several agencies can make future purchases off that single contract.
In Texas, one of the largest and most successful cooperative purchasing programs is The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN). The organization has the backing of the Region IV Education Service Center (ESC), one of the largest ESC’s in thenation, which serves as the lead agency for TCPN. Region IV ESC awards all the contracts for TCPN using a competitive bid process. All bidders are advised that their contract may be used by other government entities across the country. More than 37,000 entities currently use at least one TCPN contract.
TCPN recently joined two other of the largest cooperative procurement programs in the country – National IPA and NJPA – to form an independent alliance whose goal is to promote excellence in cooperative procurement practices and to vet other interests of those who are part of public procurements.
The trio of programs seeks to involve industry representatives such as procurement officials, agencies, vendors, cooperative programs and professional associations. Organizers hope to be able to assist these individuals in achieving their purchasing goals.
Saying cooperative purchasing programs have become a “best practice in public procurement,” National IPA’s Andrea Scobie (pictured), vice president of marketing, said the alliance is hopeful that those who specialize in public procurement will become part of the group. “We want this group to consist of all facets that cooperative programs touch, so that everyone feels that they have a voice.
The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), hailed the formation of the alliance of the three cooperative programs “in support of sound public procurement practice and a commitment to the profession’s values.” NIGP officials called cooperative procurement a “valuable option” being utilized by public entities to stretch tax dollars.
“This is an historic period for cooperative procurement and cooperative programs supporting the public sector,” said an NIGP statement. “Through our collective efforts and commitments, we preserve a contracting practice that expands agency capacity to provide the many services desired and expected by their communities.”