More than 32,000 public agencies, including thousands of schools and universities, have saved money and streamlined their purchasing processes by using the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance.
U.S. Communities, a non-profit organization based in California, enables education institutions to save money on purchases by pooling the buying power of public agencies from coast to coast. Schools and universities can piggyback on contracts that have been put out for competitive bid by lead public agencies.
Schools and universities do not have to pay to use the system; vendor fees cover the costs of operating U.S. Communities.
The system accounts for the purchasing of $1 billion a year in goods and services, U.S. Communities says, and about 400 additional public agencies sign up each month to participate. One of the organization's more recent efforts is a Green Initiative, in which U.S. Communities “has identified … those items in its contracts that meet third-party environmental certification standards.”