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County Spends Wisely, Saves $1.87M

County among nation’s best when purchasing goods and services

The County of San Luis Obispo celebrated several achievements in 2015, thanks to the way it purchases services and goods from third-party vendors.

Last year, the County’s Purchasing Services team saved taxpayers more than $1.8 million on goods and services purchased and, for the first time, earned the Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award from the National Procurement Institute. This award places the County of San Luis Obispo among the Top 1 percent of the nation’s public purchasing organizations (among other cities, counties, institutions of higher education, school districts, special districts and state agencies).


 

“Through some hard work, determination, and good negotiating skills, we’ve saved the taxpayers money that we would have otherwise spent on the services and products,” Van Dorn said. “Any time the County spends a dime in third-party vendor services or contracts, we’re there to make sure we maximize the value for taxpayers.”

 


 

“In our case, the application was a bit more than 300 pages,” said County Central Services Department Administrator Cody Van Dorn. “We work to serve the public, and it’s an honor to be recognized among the nation’s best for what we do every day.”

The team also completed 1,884 total purchase order transactions, accounting for $185 million annually that circulates through the County’s financial system.

“Through some hard work, determination, and good negotiating skills, we’ve saved the taxpayers money that we would have otherwise spent on the services and products,” Van Dorn said. “Any time the County spends a dime in third-party vendor services or contracts, we’re there to make sure we maximize the value for taxpayers.”

By getting involved early on in the purchasing process and leading negotiations for departments, the purchasing team is able to successfully streamline all department purchases and save the County money overall. The team will continue to find additional cost-saving opportunities by continuously analyzing how we procure goods and services.

“We may be able to save even more as we combine spending with other local government agencies, educate suppliers on how to do business with County government, and implement process improvements,” Van Dorn said.

The award has only been presented to 47 other counties nationwide. The County of San Luis Obispo regularly demonstrates 27 of the 35 procurement best practices listed as award criteria. Some of those best practices include:

  • Strategic procurement, which provides millions of dollars in cost savings to taxpayers.
  • Electronic procurement, which results in a more competitive environment, reduced costs, and more awards to first-time vendors. Electronic procurement also allows County vendors and other potential suppliers to easily respond to opportunities, expands the County’s potential sources of supply, and provides automatic electronic notifications to suppliers on opportunities. For example, in 2011 the County was not using electronic procurement and had approximately 500 vendors in its database to contact for new opportunities. Today with electronic procurement, the County has more than 15,000 registered suppliers and is also connected with Sacramento, Placer, and Riverside counties’ 100,000 registered suppliers.
  • Professional development, which ensures that the County’s purchasing agent and buyers are credentialed professionals (CPPO, CPPB, CPSM) who understand, apply, and maintain best practices. In addition, professional development increases the County’s overall network of purchasing agents who work in other governmental agencies.
  • A Regional Purchasing Alliance membership, which allows Cal Poly, City of San Luis Obispo, and local school districts to maximize purchasing power by increasing economies of scale in order to coordinate and receive the lowest possible price. The County is the lead agency in the Central Coast Purchasing Alliance.
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