The concept of cooperative purchasing is certainly nothing new, but for many, the process of utilizing this type of resource is completely unfamiliar. While a variety of definitions can be used to describe it, a cooperative purchasing organization – at its core – utilizes a group approach to procure goods or services. Often, participating organizations share a common interest and are looking to lessen the administrative burden and contract compliance issues associated with procurement.
As noted in a recent Harvard Kennedy School of Government white paper, “Cooperatives have evolved to provide a wider variety of benefits to procurement officials and vendors, offering increasingly complex services adaptable to a growing participant pool. Expansion of offerings and targeted attention to best-in-class contracts have furthered their value proposition.”
Other names for a cooperative purchasing organization include purchasing consortia, purchasing cooperative, buying cooperative, cooperative consortia, and group purchasing organization (GPO).