US Mayor Article

USCM-NACo Procurement Program Continues to Grow, Gain Popularity
U.S. Conference of Mayors Special Services

By Justin O'Brien
March 20, 2000


1999 saw the Government Purchasing Alliance (GPA) contracts, sponsored jointly by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties, attain new levels of popularity nationwide. The program’s nationwide sales figures for the year grew to exceed $85 million, up from $35 million in 1998; a strong indicator that the program and its cost-efficient processes is moving from strength to strength and will be around for some time to come.

2000 promises even greater variety and flexibility for city procurement needs. Savings to public entities through their use of the program are estimated at over $37 million for 1999; an obvious attraction as city and municipal government continues in its efforts to do more with less. To date over 6500 public entities have been utilizing the GPA contracts including over 1000 cities and city-related entities.

In 1999, the program also saw a growing acceptance of the cooperative purchasing concept nationally. Importantly, the USCM-NACo program received the endorsement of the National Institute for Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), the premier national organization for public sector purchasing professionals. Numerous state governments now utilize the program’s contracts due to their financial and management-related benefits. These include heavily discounted pricing, leveraged by the national volume of city and county local government and the avoidance of costly and time-consuming bid and evaluation processes, as the contracts already exist. Additionally, several contracts include volume and expenditure information to be captured by the supplier, removing the need for the local government to maintain associated management processes.

All program contracts have been competitively bid at the national level by a local government and are non-exclusive, meaning that cities always retain the ability to utilize other contracts or suppliers where considered necessary or beneficial. With few exceptions, such as local governments in Louisiana and New York, your city and municipal governments across the country are permitted to “piggyback” onto these contracts and benefit from their pricing and cost-efficient processes immediately.

The Conference has taken an active role as the sponsoring local government partner of the cooperative purchasing program with the National Association of Counties since 1997. The initial program offering to local government consisted of Office Supplies brought to customers by Office Depot who successfully completed the bid process for national service. 1999 saw the program’s offerings expand considerably and it now boasts additional product lines for Computers, including Software, Systems Design, Training & Consulting and Office Systems Furniture. The program’s Electrical and Communications/Data Supplies contract was finalized in 1999 and is already rapidly gaining popularity in several parts of the country. It is now available for use by cities throughout the country.

Program Contract Enhancements & New Product Lines Continually Developed

Value-added additional benefits are regularly considered by the program’s advisory board and suppliers in order to ensure maximum service to program customers as well as to keep abreast of developments in the city and local government marketplace. Revisions of the cooperative purchasing program’s Office Supplies contract have taken place and it now includes internet-ordering and volume purchase incentives. By utilizing the internet for at least 40 percent of total orders placed, 0.5 percent of the sales volume will be reimbursed to the purchasing entity. Fully 1 percent of sales volume will be reimbursed where 80 percent of total transactions are conducted via the internet. Supplier Office Depot is recognized as an industry leader in internet commerce and the organization’s vice-president for contract marketing, Monica Luechtefeld is President of the national Open Buying on the Internet forum, known as the OBI Consortium.

For larger city purchasers of office supplies, volume incentives include a 0.5 percent reimbursement for purchases over $500,000, one percent for over $1,000,000 and 1.5 percent for purchases over $2,000,000. In order to qualify for the volume incentives these purchases must take place within one calendar year. Furthermore, Minority, Disabled Veterans and environmental issues are addressed through Office Depot’s supplier network and items produced by minority owned businesses are identified in the program catalogs, both the paper and on-line versions. Additionally under development by Office Depot is a “Tier One Minority Business Solution” for city and local governments where local rules and regulations concerning minority suppliers will be addressed, as well as schools and education-oriented catalog offerings.

A new Request For Proposal for Computers is currently under evaluation with contract availability anticipated for the middle of the year. The bid process has attracted many of the larger computer manufacturers including IBM, Gateway, Dell and Compaq. An Office Machines contract for Digital Copiers and Data Imaging Equipment is also expected to be made available in mid-2000. Companies such as Konica and Toshiba are anticipated suppliers for these products.

A further Office Furniture offering is also anticipated for later in 2000. This future contract will include stand-alone furniture items and case goods in addition to the larger office systems products.

The Advisory Board for the GPA consists of the purchasing officials for the cities of Fort Wayne, IN; Seattle, WA; Denver, CO; Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL and Houston, TX; as well as the counties of Erie, NY; Orange, FL; Los Angeles, CA; Fairfax, VA, Santa Clara, CA and Hennepin, MN.

Current USCM Procurement Program Offerings:

  • Office Supplies
    Supplier: Office Depot                        
    61-71% off manufacturers’ list

Features: Internet Ordering, volume and expenditures reports and information capture.

Recycled and Minority Business products identified in on-line catalog. Over 10,000 items in stock.

  • Computers
    Suppliers: Wareforce, EnPointe Technologies, Tangent
    Competitive, Deep Discounting – Most Favored Government

Features: Systems Design, Software, Training and Consulting

  • Office Furniture Systems
    Suppliers: KI, Knoll
    50-71% off manufacturers’ list

KI Product offerings include System 3000 and others.

Knoll offerings include Reff, Morrison, Currents, Equity, Dividends

  • Electrical & Comm/Data Supplies
    Suppliers: Graybar Electric
    15-71% off manufacturers’ list

Features: On-line catalog. Use USCM contract simultaneously with existing local contracts with Graybar for guaranteed better pricing.

Cities interested in using the USCM Cooperative Purchasing Program or wanting more information should contact the Conference’s Justin O’Brien for more information at 1-888-828-8763. E-mail: jobrien@usmayors.org