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Cooperative Purchasing Programs

A "cooperative purchasing program" is a cooperative arrangement for acquiring goods or services that involves aggregating the demand of two or more entities in an effort to obtain a more economical purchase.

Entities typically sign up to use cooperative purchasing programs through a cooperative purchasing agreement. Program membership may provide entities with access to lists of agreements or contracts for goods and services at pre-negotiated rates or prices. Typically, the member then purchases the goods or services by negotiating with participating vendors and placing purchase orders or entering into contracts based on the rates or prices listed in the cooperative purchasing program’s agreements or contracts with vendors.

An applicant that decides to use a cooperative purchasing program must document and explain how its use of the program complied with all federal procurement standards and applicable state, tribal and local procurement rules and policies.

Joint Procurements

Cooperative purchasing programs are distinguishable from joint procurements. A "joint procurement" is a method of contracting in which two or more purchasers agree from the outset to use a single solicitation and enter into a single contract with a vendor for the delivery of goods and/or services. FEMA sees fewer compliance issues with joint procurements.

While the federal procurement standards encourage the use of cooperative purchasing where appropriate, non-state applicants should exercise caution when using such programs and work closely with the procuring entity to ensure compliance with the federal procurement standards found at 2 C.F.R. §§ 200.318- 200.326.

Frequent Compliance Issues

To ensure a successful arrangement, learn about the common issues that arise in cooperative purchasing programs for procurements above the simplified acquisition threshold.

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Failure to follow federal contracting requirements may jeopardize FEMA funding for costs associated with that contract.

Full and Open Competition

Non-state applicants must ensure that the solicitations used by cooperative purchasing programs include a clear and accurate description of the scope of work or goods actually required by the non-state applicant. Additionally, cooperative purchasing programs that place overly restrictive requirements on solicitations risk noncompliance with the full and open competition requirements.

2 C.F.R. § 200.319

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Socio-economic Contracting

Non-state applicants must ensure that the solicitations used by cooperative purchasing programs include a clear and accurate Non-state applicants must ensure cooperative purchasing programs take the applicable affirmative steps to encourage participation of small businesses, minority businesses, and women owned enterprises. Failure to take any of the affirmative steps violates 2 C.F.R. § 200.321.

2 C.F.R. § 200.321

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Contract Provisions

Cooperative purchase programs at times do not include the federally required contract provisions in their agreements with vendors. All state and non-state applicant contracts must contain the applicable contract clauses described in Appendix II to the Uniform Rules (Contract Provisions for non-Federal Entity Contracts Under Federal Awards).

2 C.F.R. § 200.326

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Procurement Method

Cooperative purchasing programs must be in compliance with the allowable procurement methods. Some of these methods of procurement require that non-state applicants publicly advertise or publicize the solicitations, solicit bids from an adequate number of known suppliers, and award contracts to the responsible, responsive firm with the lowest price or to the responsive firm whose proposal is most advantageous to the program with price and other factors considered.

2 C.F.R. § 200.320

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Geographic Preferences

Any geographic preferences that a cooperative purchasing program uses in evaluating bids or proposals and any additional terms and conditions in a cooperative purchasing program’s pre-negotiated agreements that favor or give preference to local suppliers would violate 2 C.F.R. § 200.319(b) and be restrictive of competition.

2 C.F.R. § 200.319(b)

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Cost or Price Analysis

Non-state applicants must conduct an independent cost or price analysis when using cooperative purchasing agreements.

2 C.F.R. § 200.323

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