Recycling Procurement Program
Alternative Procurement Primer
The goal of government purchasing is to buy commodities and services through competitive procurement practices.
As NASPO explains it in "State and Local Government Purchasing, 4th Edition", National Association of State Purchasing Officials on page 15:
"In performing their primary duty of representing the taxpayers' interests, public procurement officers must carry out their work under public scrutiny and in accordance with policies that take advantage of the benefits of competition. Thus, statutes and rules customary require state and local governments to utilize competitive procurement practices in all procurement, usually by means of competitive sealed bidding or competitive sealed proposals where the procurement involves an amount over a specified dollar level. this requirement is intended to secure sound value, to guard against favoritism and profiteering at public expense, and to promote the interest of private enterprise and the health of local economies by providing equal opportunities to compete for government business....Competition is the central principal of public procurement....Competition requires the largest manageable number of potential vendors who supply a wide spectrum of product or services in a number of marketplaces. With this in mind, most state and local government procurement statutes, ordinances and rules provide that procurement exceeding a specified dollar amount must be made using formal competition, with public notice, sealed bidding and public bid opening."
Even when making purchases at a low dollar level, most government procurement offices are still required to follow a relatively informal competitive process. Whether formal or informal, government purchasing agents rely on the competitive marketplace to buy commodities and services. Here are some over-simplified definitions:
These brief definitions cannot cover every situation, of course, but they may help non-purchasing professionals understand some of the realities of government procurement. More importantly, these definitions may help you to understand how the resources offered here are intended to help purchasing professionals to make decisions and to write effective bid specifications. Almost every alternative procurement raises one or more of the following issues: price, performance, competition, and availability. If you are trying to interest purchasing agents in a new or different product, you must try to anticipate how your proposed product fits the competitive bidding process.
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