U.S. Communities — the Gold Standard for Cooperative Purchasing
By Kathryn Kretschmer-Weyland
May 24, 2010
There are a lot of purchasing cooperatives out there these days, but The U.S. Conference of Mayors sponsors only one — U.S. Communities. What differentiates U.S. Communities from other regional and national programs? The answer lies in these key differentiators.
Lead Public Agency Model
U.S. Communities initiated the use of a lead public agency as its model from its first contract offering in 1998. Each contract offered by the program has been publicly solicited by a large lead public agency on behalf of all other local and state agencies in the United States.
Public Agency Oversight Model
U.S. Communities provides program oversight and compliance with professional public procurement standards through its advisory board. The board consists of 22 public procurement professionals representing cities, counties, schools, higher education and state government. Each member serves a three-year term. Each appointed member must have the authorization of its public jurisdiction to serve.
Lowest Cost to Government Commitment
Prior to the award of a contract to a supplier, the supplier must agree to specific terms and conditions. A key commitment is that the offering is the lowest-priced offering the supplier provides to the government sector.
U.S. Communities provides internal and third-party audits of the contracts on the program. Each year, seven or eight contracts are audited by a third-party independent auditing firm for compliance with contract pricing, terms and conditions.
All U.S. Communities contracts are offered without fees or costs to participating public agencies and nonprofit organizations. Registration is free, and public agencies are not required to commit to minimum amounts of purchasing. Agencies can use the program as frequently or as little as they desire.
Since 2001, the program has documented public agency savings of more than $1.3 billion. As of January, more than 39,000 public agencies have registered for the program, more than 24,000 agencies use at least one contract every quarter, and over 35 percent of using agencies use two or more contracts every quarter. Over 70 percent of counties in the United States are registered to use the program.
Professional Association Sponsorship
U.S. Communities was co-founded as a public benefit cooperative to assist public agencies in procuring goods and services on a cooperative basis. Its co-founders include USCM, the National Association of Counties, the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, the National League of Cities and the Association of School Business Officials.
For 14 years, U.S. Communities has provided significant hard-dollar savings on commodities and services, as well as soft-dollar savings on avoided administrative costs, to public agencies nationwide.
For more information on U.S. Communities, contact Kathryn Kretschmer-Weyland at 301-460-525 or email@example.com.