Streamlining the Public Sector Procurement Process

Government Workers

Getting Started

You’ve spent months researching the market, interviewing vendors, determining your needs, developing requirements, and securing dollars in your budget.  You’re ready to make a purchase but your spending thresholds require a competitive solicitation.  Request for Information (RFI), Request for Quote (RFQ), Request for Bid (RFB), Request for Proposal (RFP), or simply RFx is your next step.  The process ensures your agency is receiving the lowest price and/or best value and is an important step in fair and transparent public procurement.  

Now you craft an RFP, publish it, wait for responses, evaluate the responses, negotiate contracts, wait for Board approval, and finally make the award.  

The industry average for the RFP process is more than three months, if not longer.  This is on top of the time you’ve spent already! 

Why Use Cooperative Purchasing?

In 2008 and 2009, public sector procurement departments were hit with pay cuts, hiring freezes, and staff decreases as a result of the Great Recession.  More than ten years later some departments still have not fully recovered and procurement agents have to “do more with less.”  Goods and services for Cities, Counties, Schools, and Universities still need to be procured, so the experts have turned to more innovative methods.

Cooperative purchasing has become one of the more popular innovations in public procurement.  A Lead Public Sector Agency completes the entire RFP process for a certain class of goods or services and makes a final award or awards to the most qualified vendors.  This award (and the pre-negotiated contract) is now available for all eligible public agencies via ‘piggybacking.’ In most circumstances, piggybacking fully meets the needs of your competitive solicitation laws and policies, saves you time and labor, and often results in a lower price than if you had completed the solicitation yourself.

A vendor’s average proposal preparation and submission cost is 2-5% of the total contract value. Vendors selling into the public sector market can submit hundreds of proposals a year.  If a vendor can submit one proposal to a lead public sector agency, that then allows all other eligible public agencies to piggyback. This results in the vendor saving their company a significant amount of time and money. Those savings can then be passed on to your organization or reinvested to make their product or service even better for you.

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As mentioned earlier, the RFx process is a crucial step in a fair and transparent public procurement. Cooperative Purchasing and piggybacking do not circumvent this process, but rather, combines the buying power of public agencies (such as yours) to ensure you have received the best price and/or value for your purchase. Many organizations choose to join the free Professional Association for Cooperative Procurement for discussion, advocacy and educational content on cooperative procurement.

There are times when a piggyback is not possible. Make sure to reach out to your vendors to see if they hold a cooperative purchasing contract and always double-check your organization’s policies, procurement guidelines, and any applicable state laws before proceeding.  


Want to learn more? Reach out to Brian at [email protected], or:

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