Purchasing capital equipment is always a fun and exciting endeavor (insert sideways glance). It always proves to be a politically driven, a molehill-out-of-an-anthill struggle that can make even the most seasoned professionals wave the white flag. So, how do you make nice with the powers that be in the ivory tower? You present strategic and economical solutions, that’s how!
There are several purchasing routes one can take when investing in a communications center update or upgrade. The most commonly known options are:
General Services Administration or GSA. (This is a contract only federal agencies can use.)
A less familiar option is the Houston-Galveston Area Council or H-GAC. H-GAC operates just as the other two purchasing options do, but it may not tout the same reputation in some states (at least not yet).
Per hgacbuy.org, “H-GAC is a regional council of governments operating under the laws of the State of Texas and governed by a board comprised of 35 elected officials from the 13 county region. The H-GAC Board awards all contracts, which can then be made available to local governments nationwide thru HGACBuy.”
While the saying goes "everything is bigger in Texas", “nationwide” is the keyword in the above statement. Anyone and everyone who is considered part of a local government agency or a state agency, as well as certain nonprofit corporations, is eligible to participate in H-GAC. More often than not, your state's department of public examiners or purchasing will have already approved the use of H-GAC as an appropriate purchasing contract vehicle; many just don’t know it!
So, how do I become a part of the H-GAC agency?
It’s easy! Complete the interlocal contract agreement (ILC) provided on the H-GAC website, gather some legal documentation on your PSAP, Comm Center or government agency, and return your information to H-GAC. It really is THAT easy! Often times, when there isn’t a greater understanding of what you’re getting into, you may receive pushback from your purchasing associates who think that it’s too much paperwork, not worth the effort, etc. Simply complete this two-page form for them, and they should have no trouble pushing the rest through! The best part is that there is no cost to you!
Are you SURE that I can participate via H-GAC?
Yes! An Interlocal Cooperation Act, per hgacbuy.org, “permits joint participation by local governments, states, state agencies, and certain nonprofit corporations.” Many states presently have arrangements in place that permit interlocal cooperation. This means that just because this contract hails from Texas, it doesn’t mean everyone else can’t play too.
Many vendors and contractors are already registered with H-GAC (i.e., those who pay a cover to join the party). Merely ask your vendor representative what their best priced options are; more often than not, H-GAC will allow vendors to provide even better pricing than you would get via state contracts, and at the end of the day, this should make your purchasing and government officials VERY happy. So, bring on the cowboy boots!