Evolving the Procurement Process in New Mexico
How the Chaves County Purchasing Department has evolved and continues to benefit from the SourceSuite e-procurement solution.
About the Chaves County:
- Chaves County, New Mexico comprises 6,071 square miles, making it the fourth largest county in the state
- In 2013, the State of New Mexico passed eight new procurement laws or amendments effecting the purchasing process for local government agencies
- Chaves County Purchasing Department works with the 30 different county departments, including a 260 bed detention facility, road department, sheriff's department and eight volunteer fire departments
- Tammy Brisco West has been with Chaves County for over twenty-four years, is the Purchasing Director for the County and an instructor for the New Mexico EDGE (Education Designed to Generate Excellence in the Public Sector) Program
- The County Seat is Roswell, where, in 1947, an event allegedly involving the recovery of remains of a crashed flying saucer outside of town has generated millions of dollars in revenue through tourism and an annual festival
Chaves County has limited resources within the procurement department with the purchasing director and one other purchasing staff member. Chaves County currently uses the New Mexico Purchasing Group, powered by the SourceSuite e-procurement solution, to distribute formal and informal bids and proposals. "My time has not been cut in half, it's been cut into tiny pieces. The New Mexico Purchasing System has saved us a tremendous amount of time," stated Tammy Brisco West, Chaves County Purchasing Director.
With limited staff, Chaves County was struggling with finding time for strategic sourcing. Tedious tasks such as faxing proposals, trying to track down return receipts and updating vendors contact information were taking up all of the county's strained purchasing resources. Brisco West knew that a change was needed to evolve the purchasing processes at the county. "I remember getting on the copier and making 20 copies of a bid, putting it in envelopes, tracking right addresses, and putting tons of postage on everything to distribute, as well as standing at the fax machine for an entire afternoon faxing addenda and verifying receipts," Brisco West explained. "Now the process takes me less than five minutes to distribute a bid and about a minute to post an addendum, no postage necessary. The distribution is so simple."
Chaves County and the City of Roswell worked to find a solution and were the founding government agencies of SourceSuite's New Mexico Purchasing Group.
Chaves County worked to find a solution and was impressed by the offerings of other local purchasing groups forming throughout the country. Chaves County has always been a leader within the state to evolve its practices and go above and beyond the statutes in place. Chaves County was one of the founding government agencies of SourceSuite's New Mexico Purchasing Group. Since forming the bid system in 2002, the New Mexico Purchasing Group has grown to help 22 local New Mexico agencies and thousands of vendors save time during the purchasing cycle. "The purchasing solution is set up to change with us, they are really in tune to what our needs are and I give them compliments for addressing the changing times and new agencies that come on," Brisco West said. "The service is really easy to look at, it's great to use, the vendors love it and it represents New Mexico well."
The New Mexico bid system allows local governments around the state to simplify many purchasing processes, freeing up resources for strategic procurement initiatives and other tasks. Distribution of solicitations and supporting documents, addenda and awards on the New Mexico Purchasing Group takes only minutes; as opposed to the hours spend previously faxing or mailing documents. Along with saving time comes monetary savings as well. "From just postage alone I went from over $1,000 annually to under $200... the bid system saves so much money," Brisco West stated.
In addition to saving time publishing and distributing bids online, Chaves County now has a robust vendor management system that includes online vendor registration, tracking of vendor solicitation viewing and document downloads, and access to its vendor database in a convenient, centralized location. Through the New Mexico Purchasing System, all data within the procurement process can be documented with confidence. "The amount of reporting that is right at your fingertips is amazing, your board can no longer question how many vendors bids were sent out to," Brisco West explained.
Access to the RFP & Bid Library was an added bonus for Chaves County in joining the New Mexico bid system. The bid library allows purchasing directors and buyers to search tens of thousands of past bids and documents to find solicitations and proposals similar to an upcoming opportunity. Many SourceSuite customers find this beneficial when working on an RFP for a service or products that has never been procured by the organization. Beyond the manual tasks, Brisco West also struggled with the time it took to write bid specs prior to joining the New Mexico bid system. "If you're unsure of what to ask for, you can go out and see what other cities have posted," Brisco West added. "I can go into the bid library and get a minimum of 3-5 past bids that are similar to what I'm looking to send out. It's extremely helpful."
New Mexico procurement law is constantly evolving and within recent years added new statutes allowing for cooperative purchasing. The New Mexico Purchasing Group includes a community discussion forum which allows local agencies to discuss cooperative purchasing prior to the distribution and release of the bid. Tammy Brisco West added that "my time is valuable. I wear a lot of hats, including our purchasing. The cooperative purchasing development is growing and very helpful. We encourage agencies to create partnerships and collaborate through shared resources."
ChavesCounty is looking to utilize the New Mexico Purchasing Group to go beyond recent procurement statute requirements. New Mexico is undergoing multiple procurement statute changes through 2015. One of the recent changes is that all sole-sourcing purchases must be posted online for 30 days prior to the purchase being made to see if there is truly any competition for an open bid. Brisco West has taken that new statute one step further and is now publishing an RFI for all sole sourced bids on the New Mexico Purchasing Group. Brisco West stated, "It really is a great system. It's a wonderful tool and I'm thankful for the service provided for us and New Mexico."
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