Best practices for purchasing from Statewide Contracts

Users of Statewide Contracts (SWCs) are encouraged to maximize the use of those contracts by becoming an educated purchaser. As a purchaser, it is important to understand what is required from the contractor and when you have flexibility to negotiate.

Purchasers should consider the following best practices when using established SWCs:

Assess Your Needs – Prior to seeking quotes from contractors, all purchasers should assess their need for a specific good or service based on a variety of factors. For example, SWCs may include language that offers more competitive pricing for higher volume purchases. In addition, SWCs include environmentally preferable products that have been vetted by the Environmentally Preferable Products Procurement Program. You may, therefore, wish to contact the Operational Services Division (OSD), other departments, cities or towns to identify similar purchasing needs and, if they exist, aggregate your joint purchase.

Familiarize yourself with the Statewide Contract – It is the responsibility of each purchaser to understand what is and is not available from each SWC. The simplest way to access contract information is by reading the most recent Contract User Guide, which contains guidance and relevant information for using the contracts effectively, identify current and new contractors, and/or detail performance reporting which may impact your decision.

Take Advantage of Prompt Payment Discounts – Most of OSD's statewide contracts contain prompt payment discount (PPD) terms available to all eligible entities. The discounts offered may be taken when the payment date is within the number of days specified in the Contract User Guides. The turn-around time for payments is measured from a) date services were rendered or goods were received, or b) receipt of a valid invoice, whichever is later. When a SWC includes PPD terms, all Executive Departments and eligible entities are required to pay their bills as quickly as possible to take advantage of this opportunity to generate savings. OSD has standardized the prompt payment discount terms on all SWCs, requiring that bidders submit their discounts based on a 10-day, 15-day, 20-day, and 30-day turnaround for payment.

Negotiate – Many SWCs contain rates that represent the ceiling or the highest rates that may be charged to the Commonwealth. Departments often have a choice of contractors on SWCs from which to select, with a range of rates, added-value features, and prompt payment discount options. Executive Departments are strongly encouraged and, depending on the guidance contained in the Contract User Guides, may be required to request quotes from at least three qualified contractors. These contractors should be provided with specifications or a statement of work that clearly states what is needed to determine what "best value" may be negotiated for the purchase.

Document – While OSD is responsible for maintaining the procurement file for SWCs relating to the competitive bid process and ongoing contract management, each purchaser is responsible for maintaining documentation of its transactions and experiences using statewide contractors. Documentation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Pre-planning documents, including activities related to contractor selection and negotiation. Use the Purchase Order for Commodities and/or Services (or its equivalent) or other contract-specific forms.
  2. Copies of all invoices, including rejected invoices and notices to contractors with an explanation for each return.
  3. An accounting of all payments made.
  4. Copies of written notices, faxes and other correspondence with the contractor.
  5. An agreement documenting the receivables and deliverables within a statement of work, including information related to any service disputes, any complaints, and their respective resolutions.
  6. Reports submitted by the contractor.
  7. Other relevant information about the contractor and its performance.

Communicate with OSD If you think you can get a better deal from a company that is not on SWC, please contact OSD.  Statewide contractors want to be competitive and are often motivated to either meet or beat a competitor's offer.  Also, let OSD know if you are planning a large purchase.  OSD often can consolidate demand and leverage volume to obtain more attractive pricing.   If, after finding that none of the SWCs meet your needs, a waiver request may be submitted by sending an  e-mail to the State Purchasing Agent at: purchasingagentosd@massmail.state.ma.us requesting a waiver and providing justification for not using the statewide contract.  Waiver requests apply only to Executive Branch departments that are required to use SWCs.    

We want to hear about your experiences using the SWCs.  All comments and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated to help OSD enhance and improve the current statewide contracts.  Comments and/or suggestions about your experience using a SWC should be directed to the appropriate Strategic Sourcing Lead.

Feedback

Tell us what you think