Ask the Expert: Purchasing and Procurement

To Bid Or Not To Bid: That Isn't the Question!

With all due respect to Mr. Shakespeare, the real question is determining whether or not to do your own bid, or to utilize another public agency’s cooperative agreement. Here’s what you need to know.

It starts internally with your school. Ask the following:

  • Do you understand your legal authority?
  • Is your legal counsel familiar?
  • Has your school utilized cooperative agreements before?
  • Does your board have to approve the use?
  • What does your political landscape look like?
  • Can goals or initiatives be achieved?

Next, evaluate the organizations:

  • How long has the cooperative been operating?
  • Does your school have to join the cooperative? Is there a fee?
  • Was the solicitation advertised?
  • What procurement laws does the cooperative follow in soliciting, evaluating and awarding contracts?
  • Has the cooperative received third-party audits, peer review or awards?
  • What is the level of customer service?
  • Does its website contain accessible and thorough documentation?

Finally, and most importantly, analyze the actual contract:

  • Does the awarded contract contain the specific solution you need?
  • When was the contract awarded, and when does it expire?
  • What are the qualifications, capabilities and financial health of the awarded supplier?
  • How is pricing addressed? i.e. percentage discount, ceiling-based pricing
  • Are the terms and conditions amendable?
  • Is there a rebate on the contract?

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Duff Erholtz serves as a Membership Development administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance. Contact him at Duff.Erholtz@NJPAcoop.org or visit njpa.co/NCPProadmap.

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