What is The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative?
The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative is an administrative agency created in accordance with Section 791.001 of the Texas Government Code. Its purpose is to obtain the benefits and efficiencies that can accrue to members of a cooperative, to comply with state bidding requirements, and to identify qualified vendors of commodities, goods, and services. The Cooperative also relieves the burdens of governmental purchasing by effectively using current technology and realizing economies of scale.
How is the Cooperative administered and governed?
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) administers and handles the day-to-day activities of the Cooperative. The Cooperative is endorsed by the Texas Municipal League (TML), the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). The Cooperative is governed by an eleven-member board of trustees. Six trustees are elected officials or employees of school districts, three are elected officials or employees of municipalities, and two are elected officials or employees of counties.
Who can participate and what does it cost?
Membership is free and open to all local governments, nonprofits, and other political subdivisions of the state of Texas. Texas school districts must be a member of TASB to participate. Revenue to operate the system and the Cooperative comes primarily from a service fee payable by participating vendors.
The only exceptions to this are for vehicles. The Co-op charges a flat amount per purchase order, regardless of the number of vehicles on the purchase order, as a service fee for the purchase of vehicles. This service fee is payable by the member entity, but is collected by the vehicle dealer as part of the overall vehicle price. The flat amount per purchase order is as follows: vehicles and trucks - $400, ambulances and school buses - $800, fire apparatus - $1,500.
Some of the revenue paid by vendors is shared with the Cooperative's marketing partners and co-sponsors. Excess revenue over and above expenses is rebated back to the governmental membership only.
How does the Cooperative work and how do I order products?
The Cooperative analyzes and makes award recommendations for products and services that have been submitted for competitive procurement as outlined by state statute.
All awarded items or catalogs will be posted on a secure Web site, called the BuyBoard, so that Cooperative members can search for and select items and order. The BuyBoard is only available to members.
Each user has a security role, defined by the entity, that allows them to shop, create and edit a purchase requisition, approve requisitions, or create and transmit a purchase order to the vendor. Individuals can be assigned multiple roles or a single role, such as a shopper only. Only those individuals with the authority to release a purchase order to a vendor will have the ability to do so.
The other option is to simply fax or e-mail your purchase order to the BuyBoard for input.
Purchase orders are electronically transmitted to the vendor based on the profile selected by the vendor. All purchase order and requisition history is tracked by the BuyBoard and accessible at any time.
How does the request for quote (RFQ) option work?
An automated request for quote (RFQ) function allows members who buy in volume to create a request for a selected item and select the vendors from whom they want to solicit a price quote. When the RFQ closes and vendors have responded, the system automatically tabulates the results. A simple click of the Award button puts the items into the user’s shopping basket for the creation of a requisition and purchase order. For any large-volume purchases, the RFQ process allows for additional price concessions from awarded Co-op vendors without members going through the formal competitive bid process themselves.
How does my entity join the Cooperative?
For governmental entities, membership is as easy as completing and returning the interlocal agreement and having your governing board adopt the board resolution included with the interlocal. Non-Profit Agencies complete the Non-Profit Subscriber Agreement. Your entity can join the Cooperative at any time.
How many individuals from our entity can have access to the Cooperative's BuyBoard?
As many as you choose to authorize. There is no limit for the number each entity can authorize. Remember, most employees are considered shoppers, only allowing them to fill their shopping baskets. All employees can be issued passwords to search and shop for products without any compromise to the purchasing process.
What type of technical support is available?
A toll-free customer support number is available from TASB. Technical support representatives can answer questions regarding the operation of the system.
Do we commit our entity to ordering only from the BuyBoard by joining the Cooperative?
A variety of products is available at discounts from manufacturers' prices. Members can elect to do all their purchasing from these discounted catalogs or only purchase selected items.
The Cooperative’s intent is to extend the options available to local governments and other political subdivisions. After becoming a member, you choose how to participate, product category by product category, item by item.
How do products become available on the Cooperative's BuyBoard?
All catalogs or items available for purchase on the BuyBoard have been competitively procured according to Texas statutes. The competitive procurement may have originated with The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative or may have originated with another regional cooperative or entity (school, city, or county). Because all items on the BuyBoard have been competitively procured, Cooperative members don’t have to be concerned with bidding themselves.
What happens if we have a problem with a supplier?
If the Cooperative member cannot resolve the problem directly with the vendor, the Cooperative staff is available to intervene.
What about my current vendors?
We encourage their participation. In fact, by participating, your vendors will have greater business opportunities with a wider variety of local governments. We also would encourage your vendors to register with the Cooperative.
How do we know we will save money by buying through the Cooperative?
The overall objective of the Cooperative is to provide a mechanism for all local governments in Texas to pool their collective purchasing power. Cooperatives save money. A survey conducted by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing* reveals that 86 percent of cooperative members save at least 10 percent on their cooperative purchases. Of course, there are no guaranteed savings, but cooperative buying power is a time-tested method of savings.
*Source: "Government Procurement," February 1997, page 23.