Ask the Expert (Purchasing and Procurement)

To Bid Or Not To Bid?

With all due respect to Mr. Shakespeare, the real question is determining whether or not to do your own bid or to utilize another public agency’s cooperative agreement. Here’s what you need to know to be strategic in your use of cooperative agreements. It starts internally with your campus. Ask the following: Do you understand your legal authority? Is your legal counsel familiar? Has your campus utilized cooperative agreements before? Does your Board or Council need to approve the use? What does your political landscape look like? Can social goals or local preference initiatives be achieved?

Next, evaluate the various cooperative organizations: How long has the cooperative been operating? Does your campus need to join the cooperative? Is there a fee? Was the solicitation advertised? Where and how? What procurement laws does the cooperative follow in soliciting, evaluating and awarding contracts? Has the cooperative received third-party audits, peer review or awards? What is the level of the cooperative’s customer service? Does its website contain accessible and thorough documentation?

Finally, and most importantly, analyze the actual contract: Does the awarded contract contain the specific solution you need? When was the contract awarded, and when does it expire? What are the qualifications, capabilities and financial health of the awarded supplier? How is pricing addressed (i.e., percentage discount, ceiling-based pricing)? Are the terms and conditions of the contract amendable? Is there a rebate on the contract? How is it paid?

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

About the Author

Duff Erholtz serves as a Membership Development administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance. Contact him at [email protected] or visit