U.S. Communities: Gold Standard for Cooperative Purchasing

January 23, 2012

by Marc Shapiro

While there are numerous purchasing cooperatives available to cities and towns, NLC sponsors only one - the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance. What sets U.S. Communities apart from other regional and national programs? 

The answer lies in these key elements of the program.

  • Lead Public Agency Model
    U.S. Communities has used a lead public agency as its model since its first contract offering in 1998. Each contract provided through the program is publicly solicited by a large lead public agency on behalf of all other local and state agencies in the U.S.

  • Public Agency Oversight Model
    U.S. Communities provides program oversight and complies with professional public procurement standards through its advisory board. The board consists of 22 public sector procurement professionals, including purchasing officials from the cities of Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Seattle.

  • 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.

  • Program Audits
    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.

  • Contract Benchmarking
    U.S. Communities uses benchmarking to validate its best-pricing guarantee. Benchmarking is done against another large contract held by a U.S. Communities supplier, against a contract held by a competitor of a U.S. Communities supplier, against results of a bid process and against retail pricing in the marketplace.

  • Significant Savings
    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 $1.6 billion.

  • 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. In addition to NLC, other national sponsors are Association of School Business Officials, National Association of Counties, National Institute of Governmental Purchasing and U.S. Conference of Mayors. Twenty-six state municipal leagues are also sponsors of the program.
For 14 years, U.S. Communities has provided significant hard-dollar savings on a wide range of products and services, as well as soft-dollar savings on avoided administrative costs, to public agencies nationwide.

Today more than 44,000 registered public agencies utilize U.S. Communities government cooperative contracts to purchase more than 1 billion dollars in products and services annually. The continuing rapid growth of participation by cities and towns and other public agencies is fueled by the program's proven track record of delivering excellence in procurement solutions.

Register for U.S. Communities today and bring purchasing savings and solutions to your city tomorrow.

Details: For a complete listing of U.S. Communities suppliers, access to the U.S. Communities Online Marketplace and other purchasing resources, visitwww.uscommunities.org or for more information on U.S. Communities, contact Marc Shapiro, program director, Corporate Programs, NLC at (202) 626-301 orshapiro@nlc.org.