The Orange County Procurement Alliance’s new, tech-enabled approach to regional collaboration

Orange County, California is the 6th largest county in the U.S. Over 250 County deputy procurement officers procure more than $2 billion of goods and services every year. The County also serves as a resource for the more than 30 local public entities within the County, including City of Anaheim, City of Huntington Beach, and University of California, Irvine (UCI).

When Orange County Procurement Officer Maria Agrusa stepped into her role just 18 months ago, “there was no collaboration or standardization across our 22 departments, leaving each department on its own to figure things out.”

Maria realized this lack of coordination was a problem not only within Orange County’s internal departments, but across entities within the County, too. “A long term goal I had was to collaborate more within the region,” says Maria. “We’re all procuring the same goods and services, under the same constraints. So why not eliminate the duplication of effort and take advantage of our buying power wherever possible?”

Maria recognized an opportunity to empower procurement professionals in the County by focusing on collaboration, standardization, and maximizing utilization of technology for efficiency and effectiveness. She and her team launched the Orange County Procurement Alliance, a group of more than 30 public entities working within the county, to collaborate on procurement. “I just had one major issue,” Maria recalls. “I had no platform to drive the sharing of information.”

Maria learned about CoProcure at the CAPPO Conference in Pasadena. CoProcure’s free product empowers public procurement professionals to find tens of thousands of cooperative and piggybackable contracts from over 300 sources all in one place, for free.

“CoProcure was the perfect solution, and the team was just as excited and passionate as we were about building this platform,” says Maria. “We immediately sat down in the middle of the conference and began strategizing on a partnership to allow the County to leverage CoProcure’s search engine to support cross-County collaboration.”

The result was a first-ever customized, embeddable search experience that allows Orange County Procurement Alliance members to see all County contracts, plus CoProcure’s growing database of contracts, all in one place. “From kickoff to go-live, implementing the solution with CoProcure took just 5 business days,” says Maria. “It was amazing!”

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Leveraging technology, the Orange County Procurement Alliance aims to:

1. Save staff time.

By partnering with CoProcure, Orange County has enabled its procurement staff to quickly find Orange County contracts. With the embedded search, Orange County published their own data for the first time. “The platform gave me a free contract management repository, which the County has never had, to allow internal collaboration that has always been missing.”

Not only can the County see its own contracts, but now it also can easily access tens of thousands of cooperative contracts from the State of California, national cooperatives, and other sources – all in one place. “There is so much information at our fingertips!,” says Maria. Fast access to cooperative contracts from local, state, and national purchasing cooperative sources makes it easier for buyers to save time writing solicitations.

Finally, as a surprising bonus, Orange County has found that they have reduced time spent responding to public records requests. In one recent case, rather than assigning a team to pull information together, they directed a requester to CoProcure by simply sending a link - saving hours of staff time.

2. Achieve cost savings and better value for taxpayers.

CoProcure provides a way for procurement teams to potentially save millions of dollars a year by using cooperative contracts - by taking advantage of economies of scale. Orange County hopes to be able to leverage its immense buying power as a region in the future to continue reducing costs and making the most of taxpayer dollars. Maria shares “The industry standard savings from utilizing cooperative procurement is between 5-15%. If Orange County, with contract spend of over $2B, can save just 1%, that’s $20M in savings!”

3. Support local businesses.

The Orange County Procurement Alliance also aims to support more small and local businesses. For Maria, “CoProcure’s search engine allows me to find local, small and disadvantaged businesses - so our county can support those business communities and meet those goals.”

CoProcure also makes it easy for Orange County to share their contracts with public entities outside the region. Since launch, Orange County contracts have received more than 150+ pageviews, with 80+ of those pageviews from outside of the county.

Greater visibility of Orange County’s contracts means more business for locally-based suppliers on those contracts. For example, a buyer searched on CoProcure for “paper recycling and destruction services” and found this Orange County contract listing Shadowhawk as a supplier, which is a local business based in Orange, California.

The Orange County Procurement Alliance is a new model for regional procurement collaboration, powered by free technology. And, Maria says, this is just the beginning.

“We are extremely excited to kick off this initiative and extremely grateful to have found CoProcure as our partner.”

Interested in how CoProcure can help your team save time, reduce costs, and support local businesses? Get in touch!

Check out the whole conversation with Maria below.