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Cooperative Procurement for Higher Ed

College and university leaders face the daunting task of navigating through rules and regulations that hinder the procurement process. This usually lengthy process requires committing limited time and resources. Then there’s the challenge of finding qualified bidders. Now, higher education institutions have the option to turn to cooperative purchasing networks to maximize resources and expedite the process.

These networks owe their growing popularity to their variety of labor-based and service offerings. Cooperative purchasing happens when one public agency competitively bids and establishes a contract available for other government agencies to “piggyback,” or adopt as their own. The combined leverage of multiple agencies’ budgets creates a price advantage and the piggybacking agency saves time and resources by leaning on existing contracts.

While traditional construction procurement has a reputation for being expensive and inefficient, purchasing construction services through a co-op can streamline this inflexible process. By utilizing contracts through co-ops, colleges and universities have access to competitively awarded local contractors who are available to start work immediately. They also see efficiencies across their schools increase as operational processes related to procurement become streamlined. Schools of all sizes and types save time and effort and avoid disputes and project delays, all while increasing budgetary control on small-to-large construction projects.

Acquiring goods and strategic services through cooperative purchasing networks is now regarded as a best practice. By enabling colleges and universities to trade the time and expense of traditional procurement for speed, efficiency, and the power of group buying, cooperative networks are offering a new alternative to decades-old processes.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Matt Peterson handles Business Development – National Cooperatives for Gordian Group. He can be reached at m.peterson@gordian.com.

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