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Cooperative Purchasing Supports Government Tech Plans

10 Mar 2015 by Christine Kern

Numerous challenges are presented as cities, counties and state agencies assess their IT needs, moving from a project plan and budget approval to implementation. Government is being urged to be more innovative, partner better with the private sector, stay on top of rapidly changing technology, and address ongoing security and privacy issues – all while following purchasing regulations that ensure the agency is receiving the best value.

Government procurement processes are beneficial for providing transparency, generating opportunities for businesses and delivering competitive pricing. While these processes ensure protection of tax payer dollars, they can also hinder government technology initiatives. As technology projects become larger or more complex, the purchasing process grows in complexity as well.

How does this impact all that government is being tasked to accomplish through technology?

The Need for Speed

Regardless of the project, speed is a critical component. Technology changes rapidly and it’s not uncommon for procurement to begin an IT solicitation, only to find out specified hardware is no longer available, there is newer technology or pricing has changed. In projects where multiple manufacturers or solutions providers are engaged, a change in product or service in one area trickles down to all involved – making coordination, budget oversight and implementation an ongoing challenge.

Making Everybody Happy

Conversely, the technology team may specify certain hardware or manufacturers that can lengthen the process for the procurement department, since they are working to meet the IT requirements as well as purchasing requirements. As government is urged to partner with the private sector and implement innovative solutions, the higher level of accountability required of public agencies can impede the implementation of new technologies.

For Your Eyes Only

Another critical component of technology procurement is security. In a time where cybersecurity is a serious issue, safety in schools and other public areas is continually challenged, and emergency preparedness is always questioned. And the very process created to protect tax payer dollars can present safety and security risks for the community. The transparency of the procurement process may make plans and technology publicly available – information that should be considered confidential for organizations outside of the public sector.

Utilizing cooperative contracts to purchase technology products and services can address all of these challenges. If the contract uses a lead public agency for the solicitation and is competitively bid, public agencies will satisfy their competitive bidding requirements. Eliminating RFPs shortens the time from plan to purchase considerably. Also, using a cooperative contract that covers a broad range of manufacturers and technology provides the flexibility needed for addressing specific hardware requirements, adjusting to technology changes and jumping on innovative solutions. When the technology will deliver a safety or security solution, using a cooperative contract eliminates the risk associated with publicly posting details of system requirements.

The U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance offers an entire line of hardware, software and services to agencies nationwide. Competitively solicited by Fairfax County, VA, this contract meets most government agency piggybacking requirements and features Insight’s best overall government pricing – with no user fees. Insight holds a contract with the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance offering a complete suite of hardware, software and lifecycle services.

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