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Key Considerations for Selecting a Co-op

By Kathryn Kretschmer-Weyland
January 30, 2012

Purchasing Cooperatives are one of the best practice tools for procurement officials, according to the National Institute of Government Procurement. Does it really matter which one you use? How can one be differentiated from another? How do you evaluate their strengths and weaknesses? Here is a list of factors to consider when evaluating purchasing cooperatives:

Structure and Oversight:

  • How was the cooperative created and what is its mission?

  • How is the cooperative structured? Is it a non-profit? For-profit?

  • Who provides oversight for the coop? Does it have a board? Who sits on the board? Are the board members Public Procurement officials?

  • Does the cooperative have dedicated trained personnel to meet with agencies in person, provide workshops, training, etc.?


  • Are the solicitations, evaluations, and awards made by a public agency independent from the coop? Or is it a closed process conducted entirely by the coop and its staff?

  • Are the solicitations evaluated by a national team of public procurement professionals from multiple agencies?

  • Are all documents related to the solicitation (award, contract and pricing) available and posted on the website for unrestricted access by the public?

Pricing Protection:

  • Does the cooperative conduct third party audits of its contracts?

  • Are supplier awards made selectively according to stringent standards? Or do most or all vendors who respond become suppliers?

  • Were there two or more qualified responses to the solicitation?

  • Do the contracted suppliers commit to best overall government pricing?

  • Are there user fees?

  • Are there minimum spend requirements?

Cooperative purchasing saves busy cities time and money. Due diligence, using these key considerations, will ensure you receive full value and benefit when choosing your coop partner. U.S. Communities is the only purchasing cooperative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors. To learn more about U.S. Communities, visit the website or contact Jeff Bean at 202-446-8140/, or Jeannie Fanning at 240-393-9672/