Cooperative Purchasing

  • Cooperative purchasing is a competitive and compliant solicitation process conducted by, or on behalf of, one or more government units for use by other government units. In other words, when a school or government agency conducts a legal solicitation process, another school or government agency can use that same contract. 

    In Minnesota, our regional Service Cooperatives offer two cooperative purchasing solutions with hundreds of suppliers for thousands of products and services. Click through either the CPC or Sourcewell links below to access them.

Cooperative Purchasing Benefits & Legal Authority

  • Four reasons to use cooperative purchasing when making purchases for your school or public agency: 
    1. You’ll save time. Cooperative purchasing satisfies your procurement process. The competitive solicitation is done for you by the cooperative and the contracts are ready for use. This saves you the time of performing your own RFP or bid process. Cooperative contracts speed up the contract creation and product delivery. Here are some more time-related reasons buyers turn to cooperative purchasing: 
      • Priorities and deadlines
      • Limited staff and budget resources
      • Gap fillers; expiring contracts
      • Emergency response (natural or human-made disasters)
      • Quick access to construction contractors for repairs and building projects

    2. You’ll save money. When buying through a cooperative, you’ll join thousands of schools and public agencies in leveraging economies of scale and negotiating tiers of savings. Many times, you'll finalize purchases through local dealers or representatives and support the local economy.

    3. You’ll access high-quality contracts. It’s not just the bottom dollar you need to consider when making a purchase. Your organization likely needs contract flexibility, has local purchasing preferences, has sustainability and social responsibility goals, and more. Cooperatives take this into consideration when awarding supplier contracts. Look for the following in awarded contracts: 
      • Contract flexibility
      • Terms and conditions
      • Compliance
      • Local preference
      • Support of social goals

    4. You’ll find them easy to use and flexible to fit your needs. Cooperative purchasing programs are free to use, have no obligations or minimums, and offer flexibility. Think of awarded contracts as a master agreement that you can customize to meet your organization’s specific needs. You can add your own terms and conditions and subsequent agreements. 
  • Legal Authority
    Minnesota Statute §123A.2 is the enabling legislation of the service cooperatives. It defines that the service cooperative role is to provide programs and services that meet the needs of members. Cooperative purchasing is one of those programs. Membership is open to schools, cities, counties, governmental agencies, non-profit organizations and other partnership agencies.

    Minnesota Statute §471.345 Subdivision 15 defines how our members can purchase from the contracted vendors while staying in compliance with the competitive bidding requirements. This statute states: 
    “A Municipality may contract for the purchase of supplies, materials, or equipment without regard to the competitive bidding requirements of this section if the purchase is through a national municipal association’s purchasing alliance or cooperative created by a joint powers agreement that purchases items from more than one source on the basis of competitive bids or competitive quotation.”

    The combination of these two statutes gives service cooperative members the ability to purchase from our contracted vendors while staying in compliance with the Minnesota competitive bidding requirements.