What Are Government Contract Purchasing Vehicles?
If you are a local government procurement officer, then you know that the purchasing process can be time consuming and exhausting. Local government procurement departments are expected to thoroughly research and compare a variety of potential options before ultimately deciding on the most effective, and cost-efficient solution to purchase with their tax payer dollars. Fortunately, there are programs in place to help local governments to expedite, and streamline the procurement process. Government contract purchasing vehicles allow local governments to more easily identify reliable partner resources, especially for large scale information technology (IT) projects such as the development of a new website.
Under government contract purchasing vehicle arrangements, local governments are able to buy products and contract with solution providers that have already been vetted by a federally-approved procurement sourcing agency, such as the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA is an independent agency of the United States government that helps to supply products and services to U.S. agencies while utilizing government-wide cost minimizing policies.
A Time-Saving Strategy
A cooperative purchasing strategy can save local governments significant time an effort to identify and contract with a technology solution provider. Compared to the lengthy time and resources involved in issuing a request for proposal (RFP), a government purchasing contract can save months of vendor research and contracting time, without fear of compromising on the quality of the partnership or chosen solution.
Civic Tip: Is your civic website going out to bid? Click here to learn what to ask in your RFP.
The GSA Schedule
To help local governments purchase services from qualified solution providers at affordable costs, the GSA maintains contracted agreements with a variety of proven solution providers under what is known as the GSA Schedule.
The GSA Schedule is, in essence, a collection of pre-negotiated contracts. Procurement managers from government agencies can view these agreements and make purchases from the GSA Schedule, and can trust that the chosen the solution provider has been vetted, and all legal obligations have already been completed.
The GSA Schedule includes a nationwide network of solution providers, allowing local governments to partner with providers located in their state or county, which means a reinvestment of capital back into your community.
Cooperative Purchasing of IT Services
Cooperative Purchasing allows state and local governments to purchase from Schedule 70 of the GSA for information technology services. Cooperative purchasing allows local governments to benefit from the buying power of the federal government when purchasing such services as:
- Information technology (IT) software
- Support equipment
Additional Benefits of Piggybacking
To obtain the most convenient and cost-effective contract, you may not have to search any further than your own local government resources. Under Chapter 39.34 RCW, or the Interlocal Cooperation Act, local government agencies may make purchases using another agency’s purchasing contract. This process, known as “ piggybacking,” allows smaller agencies to benefit from contracts awarded by larger “ host” agencies.
Piggybacking allows small agencies to save time and obtain more competitive rates and terms than if they worked to obtain independent bids. Local governments may also be able to piggyback off of some federal contracts administered by the GSA, such as IT and digital development contracts. Generally, to piggyback on another local government agency’s contract:
- The host agency and the piggybacking agency must sign an interlocal agreement and file it with their county auditor or post it online by subject (RCW 39.34.040).
- The host agency must comply with its statutory contracting requirements and post the solicitation online.
- The vendor must agree to the arrangement.
In addition, CivicPlus has been awarded a contract for Web Hosting, Web Services and Content Management under The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS). TIPS is a national purchasing cooperative that offers access to competitively procured purchasing contracts to its membership, which currently includes state and local governments and non-profit organizations.
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