The Kansas City Regional Purchasing Cooperative (KCRPC) is an initiative of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), a nonprofit association of 119 cities and 9 counties in the Kansas City metro region, and the Mid-America Council of Public Procurement (MACPP), the local NIGP chapter. In 2002, MARC and MACPP established the KCRPC with the goal of reducing the costs of procurement and formalizing purchasing collaboration in the region. KCRPC creates regional cooperative contracts to help the public entities in the region reduce the administrative time spent on procurement and achieve cost savings. The program is a model for how regional councils can collaborate on procurement across a region.
With Pavilion, KCRPC is enhancing its members' experience, streamlining its internal operations, and generating revenue that supports critical programs across the region.
Supporting regional collaboration on procurement
KCRPC’s program is led by Rita Parker, its Program Coordinator, and an Advisory Committee made up of representatives of member governments. Parker is a public procurement collaboration expert, coming from three decades of procurement experience in the region. In her role, she helps identify shared needs across member governments, then runs a shared competitive solicitation process on behalf of members. The process helps entities in the region achieve lower prices and save the administrative costs of generating their own contracts. In the beginning, recalls Parker, the program “was an early experiment in regional collaboration. We started with basic contracts for things we knew every entity needed: paper, petroleum, tires— and then we progressed. There was a need to increase the number of shareable contracts in the region.”
As KCRPC started developing more contracts, it also supported local entities in adding contracts to its website, so others in the region could see contracts from other local entities. But the process of posting these contracts to KCRPC’s site was time intensive and the technology was limited. “Everyone benefits from collaboration, but it’s very time-intensive to make it happen,” shares Parker.
Collaborating with Pavilion
Pavilion’s platform empowers public servants to find thousands of shareable contracts from hundreds of local, state, and national sources— all in one place. As one of Pavilion’s earliest partners, KCRPC helped to co-develop and improve the product. As a first step, KCRPC deprecated its old website and started publishing its contracts with Pavilion instead.
“I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, since Pavilion’s approach was so new. But it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come together in just a few years!”
Delivering a better experience for local governments
With Pavilion, KCRPC has been able to improve the experience of finding and using contracts for its members, including KCRPC’s cooperative contracts, plus contracts from other public entities in the region, the state governments of Missouri and Kansas, and national purchasing cooperatives.
Now, with Pavilion, members can instantly access all KCRPC contracts and complete contract documents. On KCRPC’s old database, members could only see one document for each record, so anyone who wanted to use a contract had to contact Parker for additional documentation. “Ultimately,” says Parker, “KCRPC aims to help our member entities time and taxpayer dollars.” So far, KCRPC has delivered over $1.3 million in direct savings to governments in the Kansas City metro through its own contracts. “We’re saving members on their advertising costs, administrative time, and the actual costs of the goods or services,” says Parker. “In addition, shareable contracts increase the sharing of information for current market pricing and available suppliers.”
In addition to KCRPC contracts, local entities can now access shareable contracts from other governments in the region, including City of Lee’s Summit, Clay County, and MACPP, the local NIGP Chapter. Previously, members could only discover these contracts by visiting individual government websites or reaching out to their personal network. Now, local public servants can see all these contracts in one place. Says Patrick West from Clay County, MO: “I’m personally happy to see that our Bids and Agreements are being used by entities utilizing Pavilion’s website.” Clay County also leverages Pavilion to find and purchase from contracts in the region and beyond. “Pavilion has been an invaluable resource for us,” says West.
Streamlining internal operations
With Pavilion, as Program Coordinator, Parker has saved time publishing KCRPC contracts, collecting shareable contracts from member entities, supporting members with contract discovery, and even responding to public records requests.
“It used to take me ages to update our website,” says Parker. “I also spent a lot of time adding contracts from local governments in our region to the site.” Now, KCPRC no longer maintains its own database of contracts on its website. Instead, its contracts and contracts from member entities are available on Pavilion. “It’s saved me so much time, all while helping to create a better experience for our members,” shares Parker.
One unexpected benefit has been saving time responding to public records requests, too. “I used to have to email documents to anyone who made a request,” says Parker. “Now, I just send them a link to Pavilion, and they can find all our documents on their own in a few seconds.”
Generating revenue to support regional initiatives beyond procurement
One of the innovative aspects of KCRPC’s program is how the program funds other regional collaboration efforts. “All of our contract pricing include a 1.5% administrative fee rebated to MARC by the supplier. Any surplus revenue we receive goes into local government services as seed money to help start other programs. For example, we set up a contract for cyber security software, and the revenue supports a regional cyber security task force and the implementation of a cyber security framework,” explains Parker.
Through partnerships, such as a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s cooperative purchasing program, HGACBuy, KCRPC generates additional revenue to fund other initiatives. When members use a HGACBuy contract, KCRPC receives a portion of HGACBuy’s administrative fee. So far, KCRPC member entities have spent over $270.3 million on HGACBuy contracts. Parker explains: “This is a win-win, since we’re helping members meet a need, and when they purchase, they’re also helping to support collaboration programs in the region that in turn help their entity.”
Making KCRPC and partner contracts easier to find and use for members with Pavilion has helped increase revenue for programs that support public entities across the region.
Pushing the envelope on regional collaboration
KCRPC’s innovative approach makes the program a national model for regional collaboration. Still, KCRPC has plans to continue improving the experience for its members and streamlining its operations with Pavilion: “We’re starting to use technology to plan more data-driven bids,” says Parker. “There’s a lot of exciting work ahead!”