Texas Rising September/October 2009

Government Budgeting

Strategies for Success

TPASS Purchasing Card Proves Rewarding

The days of small-ticket items masquerading as big-ticket ones are gone for the taxpayers of the nation’s second-fastest-growing large city. Thirteen years ago, Round Rock began using the State of Texas CO-OP.

Membership in the State of Texas CO-OP, which is administered by the Texas Procurement and Support Services Division, is open to local governments, mental health community centers, and nonprofit assistance organizations that receive state funds through a state contract or grant.

For the first half of fiscal 2009, Round Rock spent $1.26 million using the State of Texas charge card and got a $13,362 rebate, says Brenda Fuller, a buyer in Round Rock’s purchasing department.

In addition to rebates, the card saves valuable time and money processing paperwork for small items.

Fuller remembers a time when a $20 auto part cost many times more.

“When you figured the cost of the man hours and paperwork, each purchase order cost us $100,” she says.

The card allows 250 city employees to quickly buy needed supplies costing up to $1,000. Round Rock has received rebates of almost $30,000 annually.

Smart Buying,
Smart Texans

New system boosts cost
efficiency, transparency

by Michael Castellon

Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of Texas Rising.

Purchasing and procurement is a big part of government operations, buying everything from toilet paper and printer paper to plumbing services in state jails, boats for game wardens, and even their guns and ammunition.

Streamlining the purchasing processes translates to time and money saved.

A new online system implemented by the Texas Comptroller makes purchasing more cost-effective and user-friendly than ever before. TxSmartBuy.com first went live in a limited version in December 2008 and began full operations in August 2009.

The system, which works like an online shopping cart, lets users browse, select and buy a wide variety of goods and services, from office supplies to fleet vehicles. Local government purchasers who join the State of Texas CO-OP can order online through TxSmartBuy.com, too.

TXSmartBuy users can access system guides and view comprehensive video demonstrations for a variety of tasks, including searching for items, creating a wish list and purchasing items. Users can also add or change addresses and make other account adjustments.

“Our goal is to improve the purchasing and selling of goods and services across the state,” says Ron Pigott, director of the Comptroller’s Texas Procurement and Support Services Division, which spearheaded TxSmartBuy’s development alongside the agency’s Innovation and Technology Division. “Moving forward, this will revolutionize how agencies make purchases, and how vendors sell goods and services.”

The daily system transaction value averages about $1 million, and by 2010, total annual orders are expected to total about $500 million. Between January and May of 2009, 146 vendors were actively selling on the system. That number is expected to soar to almost 800 by next summer, which will help stimulate real-time competition among participating vendors.

In addition to maximizing efficiency for agencies, TxSmartBuy.com enhances the transparency of government purchasing for taxpayers. Anyone can use the system to view contracts and easily learn how much state agencies pay for products. TR

To get started with buying or to search contracts, visit TxSmartBuy.com.