Several dozen public purchasers got an update on cooperative buying tactics at a strategic sourcing summit in Marietta, Ga., recently. The free educational event showed buyers how to save time and money using competitively solicited contracts through the U.S. Communities Program. U.S. Communities is a national government purchasing cooperative.

The event included a presentation from the Cobb County, Ga., Purchasing Department and a supplier partner question and answer panel. Brief presentations from suppliers were part of the affair.

Edward McAdoo is a Buyer 1 in Roswell, Ga.’s purchasing department and in his first year in public purchasing. He told GPN that he learned a great deal about the co-op's solicitation and awards process. “It’s there for me to read about on the web,” said McAdoo. “I learned some new information resources, like where to research product specifications.”

“Very informative” was how Janett L. Adams described the session. She is Purchasing Compliance Officer-Finance & Budget, School Nutrition Division at the Georgia Department of Education in Atlanta. “It gives me options to share with our procurement officials. We will explore the program and see if it works for our agency.”

Cobb County is the lead public agency for the Garland/DBS Inc. roofing supplies and support services contract through U.S. Communities. The county’s purchasing director, Joe Tommie, and purchasing supervisor, Bill Thomas, outlined the tasks of a lead public agency in a cooperative contract. They also discussed the role of the evaluation team that participates in each cooperative pact, as well as the role of the U.S. Communities advisory board.

“It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s another tool in your belt,” was how Bill Thomas described the value of cooperative purchasing for public buyers. He added that cooperative buying can help streamline the process. “It helps balance the 80/20 rule, where you are spending 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of the contracts."

Andrea Williams, a U.S. Communities marketing manager, outlined the value of ProcureSource at the session. Its site has a total of 3,000 cooperative contracts for government purchasers.

The resource, which is updated monthly, is available for free to public and nonprofit buyers. It serves as a starting point for identifying cooperative purchasing options for state and local government, school districts, higher education and nonprofits. Users can search the site by supplier, product category and other ways. The site includes a due diligence checklist and all contract documents.

Utility Vehicle on Display

Club Car displayed its Carryall 510 LSV (low-speed vehicle) utility vehicle at the sourcing summit. The Augusta, Ga.-based firm manufactures golf, utility and transportation vehicles.