SHACOG Purchasing Alliance

Almost 50 years ago, prior to the incorporation of SHACOG, a consortium of municipalities located primarily in the South Hills corridor of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, banded together as cost conscious consumers to experiment with a joint purchasing venture.  Premised on the idea that bulk buying achieved by massing their individual needs into single bids would produce discounted prices, their efforts proved successful.  Since most of the participants became members of SHACOG upon its inception in 1973, responsibility for this activity was eventually transferred to SHACOG.  Having subsequently recorded several years of proven results, by the early 1980s the other then seven Allegheny County COGs were eventually invited to participate.  In 2008, the Butler County COG, whose organizational border is contiguous with the northern border of Allegheny County, was included.  With this addition, SHACOG now serves as the coordinating and administrative entity for 170 COG-affiliated municipalities and municipal agencies participating in what is known as the SHACOG Purchasing Alliance.

All items are procured through a formal, competitive, publicly advertised sealed bid process, so each product or commodity category addressed by the Purchasing Alliance typically represents a collective value of at least $21,900.00.  Because of the mechanics and expense involved with this methodology, all bid activity is based on defined municipal needs.  Bids are not released simply to develop a catalogue of prices, but are rather based on an estimated volume that will hopefully be sufficient to generate discounted prices.  Adhering to the joint purchasing model, the administrative responsibilities for the “front end” of the bid process (securing estimated requirements, developing specifications, placing the advertisements, disseminating the bid documents, opening bids, tabulating bids and disseminating bid results) are vested in SHACOG.  In recent years, much of this activity has been transferred to an online process handled through a dedicated portal on the SHACOG website.  The participating municipalities, however, accept all bids and make the official contract awards, generally retaining the right to purchase only those products and those amounts which they require.  Both large and small purchases therefore have the opportunity to benefit from volume pricing.  Each COG, as a corporate entity, also has the right to accept a bid and make purchases.

Bid activity generally embraces specific categories at different times of the year:  spring commodities, fall commodities, police and passenger vehicles, trucks and truck equipment.  Anticipated purchase volume for this collective array of items generally exceeds $10,000,000.00 annually.  Due to special considerations, bulk rock salt, which usually embraces estimated annual requirements of 150,000 tons or more, is bid separately.  Other independent bids for specialized items (for example, in-car police video cameras, sanitary sewer flow monitors) are released on an as-needed basis.  Products are deleted if the demand is not documented and new products are added as needs are identified by the participating municipalities.

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