2023.02.07: The Six Core Questions on Co-op Contracting

Original article published on Linkedin by Dustin Lanier, CPPO

(This article was also recorded as a podcast, give a listen here!)

In preparation for my panel participation for the NCPP, I've pulled together thoughts on the Six Interrogatives - "Who" "Why" "What" "When" "How" and "Where" - of Co-op contracting. 

Who does co-op contracting serve? It serves both public procurement officials and government service providers equally. It is a shared partnership that allows government to retain its intellectual property through its actions, and it allows service providers to move more nimbly. 

Why should co-ops be a tool in the toolkit? The contracts are negotiated at scale, allowing confidence in terms, conditions and rates.  By taking advantage of work that has been done by other peers, the governmental entity can take advantage of work created by others, and reserve new RFP's for other problems the entity may have that can't be solved through co-operative contracts. 

What key problem do these contracts solve for both parties? The cost and complexity of RFP response cannot be underestimated in regards to getting an effective set of options. Some RFP's can cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars for response, and otherwise qualified vendors may pass on response to individual opportunities if there are already cooperative contracts that have been established.  

When competition is still needed to find the right expert, cooperative contracts can still be the method. "Bakeoffs" - individual competitions via task orders inside of or across co-op contracts, focused primarily on specific scope and available staffing can be dramatically faster through a co-op contract. It's important to keep the advantage by making the request document not re-ask questions already addressed through the contract (such as references or methodology or insurance as examples).

How to be a good partner with a co-op contract? Understand that to be a great partner, there has to be a problem to be solved first - having a cooperative contract is only useful if the client has a problem that needs to be solved. Communicating the availability of contracts globally makes sense. But getting to know people who are likely to need the problem solved via the contract first as business professionals individuals is the real key.

Where do you find out about these problems? Professional conferences are a great place to meet individuals to learn about their priorities. Also, industry days are excellent opportunities to learn about market segments. Get out to learn and contribute - give back to build knowledge - and good things will come.