The survey results are in: Procurement professionals in the public sector feel overworked, making it difficult to engage with their customer departments — including fleet.
Onvia, a provider of intelligence in the business-to-government marketplace, received 668 responses to its 2017 Survey of Government Procurement Professionals.
The results of this survey are probably not surprising to fleet managers. The survey shows nearly 40% of procurement staff and managers indicated being “stretched” to the limit or working extra hours to meet deadlines. The ability to conduct adequate research and planning, regulatory compliance and regulations, and staffing limitations rose to the top of the list as areas where procurement teams feel frustrated and unable to conduct the adequate level of effort necessary to do it right. Procurement professionals admit they are not always as engaged as they would like to be with their customers.
Because they rely on procurement to obtain the goods and services needed to run their operations, fleet departments also feel the frustration. Many successful agencies are looking to improved ways to conduct business to mitigate the problem of limited resources and lengthy bid processes. The result is a growing phenomenon across the nation — the use of cooperative contracting.
Savings in Pricing & Time
The idea is a simple one — using an already established contract put in place by a designated cooperative organization or government agency that can be used, or “piggybacked” upon, by another government organization. Approved by the American Bar Association and viewed as an alternative contracting method, its benefits can result in savings — in both pricing and time. By leveraging the spend capacity across a larger number of agencies, suppliers can often provide more advantageous pricing or increased benefits. Since the solicitation process is already done, it saves time spent conducting research, issuing bid documents, and performing a lengthy evaluation and award process by the agency.
For fleet, cooperative contracting can offer additional specific benefits. These include filling gaps where current contracts do not provide the specific supplier or product, or providing an easily accessible solution during emergencies. For example, during the recent hurricanes that covered the southeast, some fleets had vehicles that were severely damaged or destroyed, particularly due to flooding. As a result, many agencies needed to increase their capacity for surplus auction services. Utilizing cooperative purchasing allows a fleet manager to quickly take advantage of contracts that are already put in place, to swiftly disperse damaged equipment, and to make room for new incoming replacement vehicles. Where one might experience higher costs during an emergency, an already established contract minimizes those “spikes” in pricing.
Ultimately, both fleet and procurement teams have the same goal — to serve the public good as they meet the operational needs of their organization. Working better as a team, and using resources such as cooperative contracting, can assist toward meeting that goal.
About the Author: Tammy Rimes is a procurement consultant and serves as executive director of National Cooperative Procurement Partners. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.