U.S. Communities


U.S. Communities Applauds NIGP’s Decision to Establish Seal of Approval: Accreditation for Purchasing Cooperative Programs

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – November 18, 2013: U.S. Communities, the nation’s leading national government purchasing cooperative serving local government and not-for-profit organizations, supports the Institute for Public Procurement (NIGP) decision to create a first-of-its-kind accreditation and seal of approval for cooperative purchasing programs. U.S. Communities sees the new designation as critical to establishing the minimum standards necessary to assure public agencies that cooperative purchasing programs are meeting and exceeding best public procurement practices in the increasingly crowded cooperative field. 

Kevin Juhring, General Manager, calls this move essential. “In the last fifteen years, the purchasing cooperative market has become increasingly crowded with options of varying quality, structure and processes. Today the public procurement community has a plethora of options from which to choose,” he said. “While there is no doubt that competition is valuable, the influx of startup cooperatives has created market confusion for public agencies that are attempting to identify credible cooperatives that employ practices that meet or exceed public procurement standards. Today we have cooperatives that are using methods such as soliciting and awarding contracts through private and nonprofit entities — practices that do not meet basic public procurement standards. This poses a risk not only to the public agencies that unknowingly access these cooperatives but to the entire cooperative marketplace. This new accreditation program will address that and there is no one better to spearhead this than NIGP.”

When NIGP joined the U.S. Communities program, options for national purchasing cooperatives were limited.  Accordingly, the Institute and U.S. Communities believe NIGP can better serve its members and the public procurement community by working to develop a standard of practice for cooperative programs through an accreditation that reflects a seal of approval for programs that meet the standard.  Public agencies will be assured of minimum standards of integrity and credibility which will allow them to differentiate among cooperatives. 

As a part of this initiative – and in the interest of full transparency – NIGP will not renew its current agreement to be a national sponsor of U.S. Communities after the current term ends on December 31, 2014.  NIGP and U.S. Communities believe it is necessary for the Institute to transition away from supporting and marketing a single cooperative and demonstrate the highest level of objectivity, neutrality and impartiality in establishing a cooperative accreditation program. 

Mr. Juhring called NIGP’s decision to end its role as a national sponsor a “natural evolution” that serves the need for objectivity and impartiality in setting cooperative purchasing standards. NIGP has the necessary respect and a unique and authoritative role as a standards-setting professional society.

U.S. Communities is proud of its long-standing relationship with NIGP. Through the Institute’s influence and guidance, the U.S. Communities program stands out as an exceptional program that embraces best public procurement practices while driving value to governments and delivering significant savings of tax dollars. U.S. Communities will continue to be guided by an Advisory Board of prominent public procurement practitioners to ensure that U.S. Communities will continue to meet and exceed the best public procurement practices and assure participating public agencies integrity and credibility in accessing U.S. Communities contracts.

In addition, U.S. Communities will continue to be nationally sponsored and governed by the Association of School Business Officials, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  

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