Collective Purchasing

Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 7, Section 22A authorizes collective purchasing by the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions, and M.G.L. Chapter 7, Section 22B authorizes cities, towns and other political subdivisions in Massachusetts to join together to collectively purchase all types of goods and services. Potential benefits of collective procurement include lower pricing due to economies of scale, shared and dedicated professional procurement officials whose time is spent on procurement, as well as centralized contracting and troubleshooting of contract issues.

Statutory Requirements

Enacted in 1990, M.G.L. Chapter 30B (the Uniform Procurement Act), establishes uniform procedures for use by “governmental bodies” to procure supplies and services, dispose of surplus supplies, and to acquire and dispose of real property. For supplies and services, with certain exceptions, Chapter 30B provides for:

  • Use of sound business practices for contracts less than $10,000;
  • Solicitation of three quotes for contracts of $10,000 up to $24,999,and
  • invitations for sealed bids or proposals for contracts of $25,000 or more.

In addition to M.G.L. Chapter 30B, several laws were enacted to prevent procurement fraud, waste and abuse. They cover all areas of procurement for municipalities:

  • Chapter 7: Public building projects design services;
  • Chapter 30, Sec. 39M: Public works (non-vertical) construction,and
  • Chapter 149: Building (vertical) construction.

The Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General publishes a series of charts outlining public procurement procedures required by these laws.

Types of Agreements

IMAs, either through a formal contract where one municipality provides procurement services for one or more other municipalities, or a joint service agreement where multiple municipalities share the services of a third party such as a council of governments or a regional planning agency are options.

The Massachusetts Operational Services Division (OSD) procures and manages statewide contracts, many of which are open to use by municipalities and other public entities. OSD also provides access to information that it uses in the development of performance specifications, and the ability to research and/or contact individual vendors who sell goods and services to the Commonwealth. Municipalities can actively participate in the OSD process during development of new procurements.

Examples of Collective Purchasing Arrangements

Franklin Regional Council of Governments
This is a fee-for-service program providing third party bidding and contracting services to all 26 towns, most regional school districts and several non-profits in Franklin County, as well as to towns outside the county. Bids are issued yearly for items like diesel fuel, heating oil, highway products and services and dog tags. New service bids include elevator maintenance and school district insurance. Participants pay a fee per bid to the FRCOG to cover program costs that include the services of the FRCOG’s Chief Procurement Officer.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council
MAPC staffs three regional services consortia and has managed several collective purchasing events for a total of 36 municipal clients. Additionally, MAPC handles collective purchasing of police and fire vehicles and apparatus on behalf of the Greater Boston Police Council and the Fire Chiefs Association of MA. Because of inclusive language included by MAPC, municipalities across the state can participate in these bids.

Berkshire County Purchasing Group
An inter-municipal agreement among 38cities and towns governs this consortium that purchases highway products and services. Each participant pays an annual fee to cover program costs and appoints a member to a governing board. The group hired a part-time staff person and shares office space with another regional consortium. A copy of the agreement is available in the Resources section above.

Other Regional Programs

Several Massachusetts Regional Planning Agencies are now providing collective purchasing services to their member municipalities, or are assisting municipalities to access collective bids issued by other municipalities.

  • SRPEDD worked with 23 towns on an office supply bid
  • CMRPC worked with the City of Worcester to make its bids for goods available to other municipalities.

Contact your RPA for more information about opportunities in your area.

Resources

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General: Chapter 30B Manual

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General: Procurement Law Charts

Berkshire County Purchasing Group:“Agreement for Negotiation and Purchase of Certain Services, Supplies and Commodities.” Also see Colonial Power Group’s website homepage  to learn more about specific municipal initiatives for power purchasing

Franklin County Council of Governments, Cooperative Purchasing

Southeaster Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) Case Study: Cooperative Purchasing Agreement for Office Supplies