Operations

NJPA Helps Fleets Cut Costs (And Purchasing Time!)

Offering an alternative procurement method to help fleets save money, the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) “creates an alliance between buyers and suppliers” to streamline the fleet purchasing process.

November 2009, Government Fleet - Feature

by Grace Lauron - Also by this author

Through a number of consortiums and partnerships, fleets have found  sharing means more than just caring — it amounts to better service and savings. Joining forces with other organizations striving for the same goal can be a big time- and money-saver. With help from the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA), fleets and vendors alike can benefit from a more efficient process when soliciting and awarding bids.

Getting Something for Nothing
The Staples, Minn.-based NJPA was created in 1977 by Minnesota State Statute MS123A.21. According to Greg Haglin, NJPA contract manager, “Our directive is to create cooperative (contract) purchasing solutions for our member agencies.”

A public entity, NJPA is comprised of public employees governed by a publicly elected board of directors. No-cost membership is offered to all government agencies, educational units (kindergarten through higher-ed, private, and public), and all non-profit entities, throughout the U.S. “Membership is offered at no cost, no obligation, and no liability. Fleets will not see any user fees related to using our contracts, like they sometimes do with other contracts. The membership is important  because it creates the paper trail between their agency and our procurement files — our competitive bidding process,” Haglin explained.

Currently, NJPA membership includes more than 30,000 agencies across the country. Approximately one-third of those members joined in the last year. New members range from educational institutions, local and state government agencies to hospitals and non-profit organizations.

Membership allows the board and NJPA staff to facilitate the bid and procurement responsibilities on behalf of members. NJPA offers other agencies competitively bid contracts through which to buy products, such as heavy equipment.

“In most cases, our contracts satisfy the fleet’s need to seek competitive bids,” said Haglin.

Streamlining the Process
NJPA’s procurement solutions are designed to generate efficiencies and choice within government purchasing. “Through joint powers laws, fleets across the country can use our competitively bid contracts to purchase premium products at nationally leveraged pricing,” said Haglin. “This process saves the fleet managers and purchasing agents the time and expense it would take for them to do their own RFPs. Purchases are made by issuing a purchase order (P.O.) to the local dealer, referencing our contract number (which ties the P.O. to our procurement files).”

Unlike most cooperatives, NJPA requires response from vendors who can support its members across the country. “We award vendors with national sales forces and/or dealer networks. They respond on behalf of their dealers,” Haglin explained. “This is important to fleets, because they can choose to buy the productsthey want, with national volume pricing, from their local dealer.  The fleets are spending their local tax dollars with their local commerce — the people they know and trust.”

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