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Socially Conscious Procurement and Cooperative Purchasing

Procurement enters the mix as agencies and different aspects of government work together to address important socioeconomic issues. Cooperative purchasing fits right in.

Socially conscious procurement is a growing interest among public agencies, government, and suppliers alike. While still in the early stages, we’re seeing more and more talk about the importance of supporting local, minority, and women-owned suppliers as well as making environmentally conscious purchasing decisions. There’s even talk of involvement at the federal level to encourage these behaviors.

For example, The Whitehouse is taking active steps to increase government purchasing involvement with minority-owned businesses. In mid-2021, plans were unveiled to utilize the federal government’s purchasing power to increase the share of contracts going to small or disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2026. As the world’s largest consumer of goods, this would translate to roughly $100 billion in spending by the federal government. It’s not completely clear what avenues the federal government will take in order to make this plan happen, but providing state and local agencies with incentives like tax breaks is in discussion.

While environmentally and socially conscious procurement are two separate issues, they’re being prioritized at similar times. They’re both extremely worthwhile topics and are likely to factor into public agency procurement strategies in the coming years. With that in mind, we’d like to take a look at what socially and environmentally conscious procurement means, why they're important, and how cooperative contracts can play a vital role in building a procurement strategy that supports them.

Socially Conscious Procurement and Cooperative Contracts

It can be difficult for any smaller business to gain market traction. With smaller marketing budgets and a lack of pre-existing relationships with agencies, winning new business can become an uphill battle. This is a common experience for women and minority-owned suppliers as well as local businesses. It’s not that agencies don’t want to use them, it’s that they don’t always know where to find them.

Socially conscious procurement involves making an effort to seek out and support these businesses. It means giving them a chance to win more business, developing relationships with them, and helping their businesses grow.

Cooperative contracts can help smaller suppliers win more business, but traditional cooperative marketplaces can be a roadblock. Buy boards, spreadsheets, and a plethora of websites are difficult to navigate, making it harder to find up-to-date contracts with the right suppliers. CompareCoOps’ platform makes it simpler to find contracts that fit your needs. Agencies simply join the platform for free, search categories for products or services, and select the contracts that provide the best fit. It’s easier for public agencies to find what they’re looking for and provides suppliers of all sizes with more exposure to win business.

Cooperative contracts are a great tool for suppliers to gain more exposure to potential buyers. CompareCoOps’ platform is agnostic meaning no suppliers are favored over others. Each contract has an equal chance to be found by agencies looking to submit a quote request. It's a great way for small suppliers to play on equal footing as their larger counterparts.

Environmentally Conscious Procurement

Environmental concerns have emerged at the forefront of nearly every industry, and procurement is no exception. The supply chains leveraged by procurement have a profound impact on the environment. Procurement is vital to infrastructure, but there are steps agencies and suppliers can take to reduce environmental impact through the procurement function.

The National Association of State Procurement Professionals (NASPO) has a terrific overview of green purchasing that includes advice for drafting an internal policy. It’s highly recommended that all agencies who meet the minimum spending threshold on required items draft and follow such a policy:

“Federal agencies and many state and local governments are encouraged or required to buy recycled content products that meet the recommended procurement guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).“

The positive environmental impact is of course the most important factor, but there are occasional financial benefits as well. Sourcing recycled goods can provide a better value, green cleaning products cause less damage to facilities and are less dangerous to people, and energy-efficient appliances can lower electric bills. Even if a given product is slightly more expensive at the time of procurement, there’s a good chance it will provide better value in the long run.

Socially Conscious Initiatives Have a Lot to Gain From Cooperative Procurement

To recap, socially conscious procurement is a topic that will continue to grow in importance over the next decade. It’s an important societal issue, there are governmental regulations, plenty of benefits, and it can be a great avenue for building up local communities and developing healthy, productive business relationships.

So how can cooperative contracts help?

Many contracts involving state and local agencies are built with socially conscious goals in mind. We’ve written before about how cooperative contracts are a great way to ensure compliance, and that remains true for meeting federal, state, and local regulations of any kind. This figures to only grow in prominence as socially and environmentally focused regulations are put in place.

Identifying suppliers that fit socially conscious categories can be difficult without the right tools. CompareCoOps gives suppliers direct exposure to agencies that might have a difficult time finding them otherwise. We make it easier to filter available contracts to find those that better meet your agency's needs and goals. When some of the background noise is reduced, identifying socially conscious contracts becomes much simpler.

CompareCoOps is fully supportive of environmentally and socially conscious procurement. If you’re a public agency looking to increase involvement with women-owned, minority-owned, and/or evironmentally-friendly suppliers, or a supplier that would like to gain more market exposure, we invite you to sign up for our platform.


Mike Armstrong

Mike is the Content Specialist at CompareCoOops, writing educational and engaging thought leadership for professionals in the public sector. He strives to equip public purchasing experts with valuable tips & tricks to help them make the best purchasing decisions.

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