Cooperative Purchasing Association

Who is NACPA?In 1998 a group of public officials, administrators, and purchasing agents from agencies across the North Alabama region began discussing the idea of a purchasing cooperative.  The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) provided staff support to this group.  The goal of the group was to establish an arrangement similar to the Purchasing Association of Central Alabama in Jefferson County, established in the early 1990s with assistance from PARCA.  through the years, meetings were held periodically to hammer out the details of the North Alabama Cooperative Purchasing Association (NACPA).  It was decided that an association would be formed and that the members would share the cost of a coordinator.

Why should we participate?  Governments are increasingly asked to do more, but expected to do more with fewer resources.  Un-funded mandates and an anti-tax sentiment, encourage governments to find innovative ways to become more efficient.  One avenue towards more efficiency is intergovernmental cooperation.  The purpose of NACPA is to jointly bid commodities and services in order to receive the benefits of intergovernmental cooperation.  Benefits that will result are lower prices due to increased volumes; the elimination of duplicate efforts, bidding the same items, usually from the same vendors; and access to professional purchasing expertise.

How does it work?  The coordinator will meet periodically with the advisory board and department heads from each member agency.  The coordinator will collect information from the members such as estimated quantities, specifications, and current vendors.  The coordinator will develop the bid solicitations and requests for proposals that will be sent to vendors.  The coordinator will collect the bids, tabulate them, and award the contract to the lowest responsible vendor on behalf of the members.  The coordinator then notifies each member of the award and contract number.  The members then use the contract number and deal directly with the vendor on delivery of the commodities and payment.  Members are not required to use all cooperative bids, participation on each bid is voluntary.  Members are not required to increase their volume of purchases, the lower prices come from the pooling of current volumes.  Members reserve the right to bid any commodity on their own or use the state bid list.

Who is in charge?  An executive board, made up of the chief executives of each of the participating agencies governs NACPA.  the executive board is responsible for approving the by-laws of NACPA’ appointing representatives to the advisory board; and employing the coordinator.  The advisory board is composed of individuals involved with the coordinator to identify the commodities to be jointly bid and determine the specifications for those items.  The cooperative will be housed in the offices of the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG)

How much does it cost?  The expenses of the cooperative will be paid by the members.  The members will pay a flat fee plus a percentage of the cooperative’s budget, based on the size of their budget relative to other members’ budget.  Annual charges for members range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the size of a member’s budget.  This cost must be compared to the direct  cost savings and the indirect savings in manpower.  As more agencies join, the cost will be less for each existing member.  Your agency will be billed for the annual assessment by the cooperative.

How do we join?  In order to join, the chief executive of your agency signs the intergovernmental agreement.  This may require a resolution of the governing body to authorize the executive to enter into this agreement.  Once enough agencies sign the agreement, a meeting of the executive board will be held, by-laws will be adopted and the coordinator will be hired.  If you have any questions or need assistance with a presentation to your agencies’ governing body please feel free to contact NACPA Coordinator Larry Whitt at (256) 509-7950 or Charles Booth with the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama at (205) 726-2326.