Shared Procurement Portal Delivers Collective Savings

The Challenge

Independent of each other, Pennsylvania’s public agencies had long been accustomed to using their local procurement processes and systems. However, in an era of diminishing resources, the cost of going it alone was becoming prohibitive. With each agency responsible for managing the creation, publishing, and advertising of bid opportunities, their constrained resources were resulting in fewer competitive bids as a result of a limited number of vendors involved in the bidding process. From advertising to copies and postage, costs were continuing to rise even as budgets were being cut. As a result of their individually low throughput of procurement actions, no agency could justify the cost of an e-sourcing procurement alternative to their manual processes.

The Solution

Along came professional engineer John Shaffer with Apex PM Solutions with an idea to create a shared procurement portal that would combine the purchasing power of these independent public agencies. He exhaustively evaluated over a dozen different e-procurement platforms using 53 metrics, which included usability, reliability, and their ability to provide a secure sealed bid process. eBid Systems ultimately rose to the top of the list and was selected as the preferred solution.

Branded as “PennBid”, the eBid Systems’ platform was used to create a shared procurement portal for managing the bidding process. Marketed to public agencies, authorities, and engineering firms throughout the Pennsylvania, Pennbid offers them to ability to reach a much larger pool of vendors, post and notify vendors of bid opportunities, distribute documents electronically, and receive and analyze sealed bids electronically. A compelling value proposition is created through offering the system free of charge to the public agency and to participating vendors. Only the successful vendor that is awarded is a contract pays a small fee based upon the size of the award

The Results

PennBid received the endorsement of the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association (PMAA), which represents over 2,600 authorities. PMAA’s legal team thoroughly vetted the electronic sealed bidding process and system auditability to ensure that there were detailed record logs to provide the transparency and documentation required for public procurement.

PennBid continues to expand and now offers e-procurement to over 350 different clients including engineering firms, government agencies, and private companies. While each agency and private firm maintains independence and control of their publicly posted solicitations, they are able to engage a database of approximately 9,000 qualified vendors. In addition to receiving detailed pricing online, bidders also submit requested documents such as vendor qualifications, bid bonds, and other required documents.

From advertising and document management to rapid vendor communication and bid tabulation, PennBid clients have seen huge time and cost savings throughout every aspect of their procurement process. Since 2010, the PennBid Program has facilitated over 2,000 sealed bids resulting in over $612M in awarded contracts, ranging from little league uniforms to water treatment plants.