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Voice of Choice - Winter Edition

What do you consider when analyzing and evaluating the cooperatives available to you?

NJPA’s aim is to best serve our membership.

It was brought to our attention that the procurement community desired a tool to address all things cooperative – specifically analyzing and addressing components as cooperative agreements are considered. The “Roadmap to a Cooperative Procurement Strategy” was born in a National Cooperative Procurement Partners committee meeting.

To bring the roadmap to life, we invited Carrie Woodell, chief procurement official for the Orange County Board of County Commissioners in Florida, and Craig Rader, purchasing agent for Sacramento County in California, to contribute their experiences and practices regarding each 'landmark' along the cooperative purchasing map.

In our Spring newsletter Craig and Carrie weighed in on what a public agency should consider internally; in this edition, they address how they analyze and evaluate cooperative organizations.

What do you consider when you analyze and evaluate cooperative purchasing agencies?


Carrie Woodell, Chief Procurement Official, Orange County (Fla.) Board of County Commissioners
Carrie Woodell
Chief Procurement Official, Orange County (Fla.) Board of County Commissioners

“Although the County’s Procurement Ordinance extends authority to the Chief Procurement Official to purchase goods and/or services through cooperative purchasing, we have a responsibility to conduct research related to each specific contract as well as the contracting body prior to making a determination for use of contract. Our validation process requires a complete understanding of how the cooperative organization is structured.

• Is there enabling legislation that recognizes the organization as a political subdivision?
• Does the organization use a lead agency to facilitate the formal solicitation process?
• Who is responsible for contract administration?

Accessibility to all associated contracting documents is another requirement in our decision-making process. The contracting documents include all formal solicitation documents and addenda, bid tabulation or scoring documents, notice of intent to award as well as the fully executed contract and all amendments. These documents should be fully accessible through the organization’s website, so we can verify that the contract is still valid, and perform price analysis to determine if the contract is inclusive of our requirements, and the pricing is advantageous.”


Craig Rader, Purchasing Agent, Sacramento County
Craig Rader
Purchasing Agent, Sacramento County

“Like our colleagues at the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the County of Sacramento’s ordinance also allows for the purchase goods and services through the use of cooperative contracts. The County of Sacramento reviews all of the cooperative agencies available to us, and we have utilized various contracts from most of the national cooperatives.

Once we determine that a co-op’s procurement process aligns with our own, and their moral and ethical compass points in the same direction that ours does, we will consider the contracts they offer. Analyzing and evaluating co-ops is a relatively quick process and usually done only once.

However, the due diligence performed on each contract we consider accessing is a more involved process that includes many factors such as, but not limited to:

• term of contracts (when were the contracts executed, when do the contracts end, are they any renewals options)

• pricing (what is the pricing structure- fixed, maximum amount but negotiable, etc.)

• any previous experience with suppliers (supplier performance) or feedback from references

• supplier's reputation

• delivery lead-times, and

• local supplier presence for service contracts.”


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The Roadmap asks the following when performing a cooperative analysis:

  • Does your agency have to register or join the cooperative, and is there an associated fee?
  • What procurement laws does the cooperative follow in soliciting, evaluating, and awarding their contracts? Where and how was the solicitation advertised?
  • Does the cooperative conduct its own procurement process, or utilize another agency as the lead? Has the lead agency or the cooperative received any 3rd party audits, peer review, or achieved awards for their contracting process?
  • Does their website contain accessible and thorough contract documentation? Is contact information provided to readily conduct more in-depth research? What is the level of customer service in response to questions, concerns or requests for information?
  • Is the cooperative a member of any National cooperative association that has high ethical values and standards for its members?
About NJPA

Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota’s nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with over 200 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.