How Cooperative Purchasing Impacted Pennsylvania's Local Government and Suppliers

Procurated Founder and CEO, David Yarkin, had the opportunity to “sit down” for a virtual interview with Curt Topper, Secretary of the Department of General Services (DGS) in Pennsylvania. Over the course of the hour-long conversation, Curt provided great insight into many of the most critical procurement challenges faced by the Commonwealth right now. During this post, we’ll explore how the Commonwealth’s cooperative purchasing program, COSTARS, has impacted procurement officials at the local level. To explore the full interview with Curt, watch part one, The Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Response, and read about part two, Diversity and Inclusion in Pennsylvania’s State Government. 

Cooperative purchasing programs play a critical role for many state and local governments, school districts, and higher education organizations. By enabling public entities to share procurement contracts, cooperative purchasing creates cost and time savings by eliminating the need for individual solicitations. And for the supplier, more predictable revenue and shortened sales cycles. A win-win.  

COSTARS, Pennsylvania’s cooperative purchasing program, is no exception. Curt Topper shares the positive outcomes, and challenges, that have resulted from the program’s inception in 2004. 

Transforming procurement for local governments and suppliers 

For many local government officials, procurement is just one of many hats that they are required to wear. Conducting their own solicitations takes time and bandwidth that they don’t necessarily have. Instead, opting to use one of the state contracts available through COSTARS removes a significant administrative burden.  

And there’s a reason COSTARS is a $1 billion program: the state-wide contract creates significant cost savings for local governments.  

By neutralizing, if not removing, administrative and cost concerns, local officials are able to focus their efforts on selecting the right supplier. Most COSTARS contracts are multiple-award contracts that feature local suppliers. While soliciting from a local business may have once proved risky and time-consuming, the state contract makes it easy for governments to support local businesses.  

The challenge: paralyzed by choice 

As the COSTARS program grew in popularity and success, so did the list of suppliers. A simple search for an HVAC vendor could yield more than 100 suppliers to choose from. Sifting through these options was time-consuming and frustrating for buyers.  

Enter, Procurated. The Commonwealth partnered with Procurated to register all procurement officials on the platform. Buyers took the site by storm, leaving candid reviews for the local vendors they have worked with through the COSTARS program.  

Now when buyers research a new COSTARS supplier, they can quickly sort using Procurated’s vendor directory. Designating preferred star rating, a specific location, minority-, and woman- or veteran- owned status to narrow down their search and browse reviews. All while still benefiting from the efficiency and cost-savings of the COSTARS contracts.

Thanks to Curt for being so transparent with our team. Click here to watch this interview on our YouTube page, or visit www.procurated.com/reveiws to share your experience with a noteworthy supplier. 
  Bernadette Launi

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