Fleet Spend: The Expansion of Fleet Procurement Options

From conventional, competitive selection processes to cooperative contracts and strategic sourcing, fleets employ a variety of approaches to meet today's demand for goods and services.

January 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Barbara Bonansinga

At a Glance

Procurement methods used by government fleets include:

  • Issuing requests for proposal (RFP)
  • Cooperative purchasing
  • Piggybacking
  • Strategic sourcing
  • Outsourcing

Government fleets buy everything from nuts and bolts to multi-­million dollar pieces of off-road equipment — and everything in between. They may purchase car parts, fuel, sophisticated fleet software systems, and private-sector services such as vendor repair management. Using the best available techniques and strategies to buy what they need is critical for cost savings and improving the quality of the goods and services fleets purchase.

Government procurement comes with a set of challenges, some of which are unique to public-sector spending, which primarily revolves around preserving the public trust. The money government fleet entities spend belongs to the taxpayers; purchasing agents are accountable to them as well as supervisors in the workplace.

The list of stakeholders in any public procurement is long and includes citizens, the media, and all branches of government, including lawmakers and participating vendors. That’s a lot of interests for which to be accountable. In most government purchasing, information is made available to the public and motives are regularly questioned.

A lot of local, state, or even federal procurement laws and policies are restrictive to prevent abuse. Sometimes the layers of rules and regulations make it challenging for buyers and sellers and increase the resources needed to participate. Citizens might be surprised to find out how much it costs a vendor in staff time and money just to compete for government contracts. Since frequently there can be only one winner in a bid process, the risk is high a participating vendor’s investment in preparing a bid may not be returned.

Values & Guiding Principles of Procurement

In 2010, the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing established its Values and Guiding Principles of Public Procurement. Some of the primary principles are:

  • Accountability
  • Ethics
  • Impartiality
  • Professionalism
  • Service
  • Transparency

Seeking “Best Practice Contracts”
According to Mike Smith, vice president of Government Sourcing Solutions (GSS), “While the fundamental principles of public sector procurement are consistent across the country, strategies and methodologies to achieve results can be as diverse as the government fleet entities that utilize them.”

GSS is a consulting firm that helps state and local governments reduce costs and drive efficiencies through best practice contracts and innovative approaches to procurement. GSS seeks out best practice contracts for commonly procured goods and services, including those related to fleet operations. These contracts are evaluated to determine the elements that make them a “best practice” approach to procuring a particular product or service. GSS then shares these contracts with governmental entities, demonstrating the savings and efficiencies that could be gained should the government decide to adopt the contract.

What does GSS look for in a best practice contract? “We look for agreements that are not only attractive from a price point but that are also flexible enough to meet the objectives, goals, and administrative policies of multiple government organizations,” Smith said, adding that an ideal best practice contract could offer 10-20% savings over the rest of the field.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Fleet Management And Leasing

Jack Firriolo from Merchants will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Fuel Management

Bernie Kanavagh from WEX will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Recent Topics

would anyone be willing to share there salary ranges for equip tech I thru III, and a welder salary range also

View Topic

I m curious as to what other state or large law enforcement fleets use for fuel management systems. Thank you.

View Topic

Fleet Documents

1106 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

A specialized form of leasing wherein some or all fleet costs are estimated in advance, then budgeted and billed by the fleet management company with periodic invoices (usually monthly).

Read more