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Written Determinations and Rationale for Cooperative Purchases at Arizona School Districts

Last year’s legislative session included a law that requires school districts to provide rationale when choosing specific cooperative purchases. Based on that statute, the procurement rules require a written determination to include that rationale. 

Districts are now required to provide a rationale when selecting vendors on a cooperative contract. This will be an additional step in your due diligence process. The rationale must be in writing. Your documentation should state the thought process for selection of the vendor in two or three sentences at a bare minimum. A checklist of possible items could also be helpful.

Documenting three quotes from a cooperative or multiple cooperatives in the form of a written determination and justifying the selection based upon the quotes obtained would certainly comply with the new rule. However, there is no specific requirement to obtain quotes from cooperatives and should only be considered as a best practice recommendation. The most important thing is to provide a written justification on just how your district chose the particular cooperative vendor contract.  The justification should be titled, “Written Determination for Cooperative Purchase” and need only be a few sentences providing the rationale for choosing particular cooperative purchases.

Bill Munch serves on a Cooperative Purchasing Committee with the Arizona Capitol Chapter of National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) that AASBO’s own Gary Barkman chairs. They have been working on best practices and justifications for cooperative purchases for years. Their work is very reflective of the new rationale determination requirements. Their best practices documents have been developed with the input of procurement professionals across state, county, municipalities, and school districts in Maricopa County. The best practices the committee developed will help school districts with ideas for compliance and give other public entities tools to make the best decisions related to cooperative purchasing.  

The Cooperative Committee has drafted and worked on various cooperative purchasing best practice projects. The topics include:

  1. A Model Procurement Program Best Practice document including how to incorporate cooperative purchasing into your overall procurement strategy and a sample justification form to help you justify to your board why you used a coop contract versus doing your own bid.
  2. They also created a “Coop Contract Checklist” that outlines best practices for determining which coop contract your district should choose.  The ideas in the checklist will definitely help you in your quest to complete written determinations for your coop contracts.  The committee had no idea this type of rationale would become a school district requirement by law, but the document is a perfect fit to the requirement.
  3. The committee surveyed more than 30 public purchasing cooperatives across the country and got general responses back to help you analyze all these coops that are out there.

All of this information is available on the NIGP Capitol Chapter website here.  

The documents present cooperative purchasing perspectives and are by no means meant as comprehensive adopt “as-is” documents.  Rather, the documents and information at this website were created to give public procurement professionals tools and ideas for strategic implementation of cooperative purchasing within a school district or other public entity. The documents are a great “starting-point” if you want to create similar documents for your entity. A strategic approach to cooperative purchasing will lift the professionalism of public purchasing and ultimately form the basis for doing what is “right” and in the best interests of the entities that we serve.


If you have questions, contact us at Valley Schools!

By Bill Munch, CPPO, CPPB

Bill Munch, CPPO, CPPB is the Procurement Compliance and Training Officer for Valley Schools Management Group, recipient of the 2018 AASBO Bill Lovett Award and the 2016 NIGP National Purchasing Manager of the Year.  He may be reached at:

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