September 20, 2014
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury 2000 Final Report: Commodity Procurement Practices
Summary | Background | Findings | Recommendations | Table 1| Response
Summary:

The 2000-2001 Grand Jury reviewed commodity procurement practices by county agencies. As a follow-up, the grand jury took a sample survey of other governmental bodies within the county to determine how many of those qualified to use the county system were doing so. The results indicate that many local governmental bodies were unaware of the county system and that the prices paid for similar commodities varied widely. For example, the price paid for a 5 gallon bottle of water varied from a low of $2.10 to a high of $29.00. As a result of the survey, several other governmental bodies within the county have indicated an interest in participating in the program.

The grand jury recommends that:

  • The county should undertake a program to inform all eligible entities (school districts, city councils, police departments, etc.) of the program and its master contract prices so that others can take advantage of the bulk buying rates.
  • The county should review its procurement of those items that other governmental bodies are buying at prices lower than the master contract prices.

Background:

In May and June 2000 the grand jury undertook a review of the procurement practices used by county agencies that use the county's centralized system to obtain standard commodities. This review did not cover service contracts or construction contracts. The grand jury determined that all commodity procurements are centralized and that master contracts are used to obtain quantity discounted prices. Each agency within the county is then free to order its specific needs against the master contract (centralized system) at the master price.

During this review the grand jury learned that other local governmental bodies and some nonprofit organizations have the option of using the master contract prices (centralized system) for their procurements. The grand jury undertook to survey a sample of those eligible to use the centralized system as to their opinion of the system. Thirty-eight questionnaires were sent to local governmental bodies from which 28 responses were received. A major fraction of those eligible to take advantage of the system (school districts, city governments, police departments, special districts, fire departments, etc.) were not aware that the system exists. Second, the prices paid by the various respondents to the survey varied greatly for similar materials. For example, the price paid for a 5 gallon bottle of water varied from a low of $2.10 to a high of $29.00. (See Table l)

Findings:

The grand jury found that procurement practices for the county are appropriate. The results of the survey of other local governmental units are twofold: Inclusion of the other eligible entities has the potential not only of benefiting the new participants but also of benefiting the county as total contract size increases could lead to further price reductions. In some instances, prices paid by the county are more than prices reported by participants in the survey.

The grand jury wrote all survey respondents informing them of the county program. As a result, several governmental bodies within the county have since indicated an interest in participating in the program.

Recommendations:


Recommendation 1.1

The county should undertake a program to inform all eligible entities about the system, of their option to use the system, and of the prices available to users.


Recommendation 1.2

The county should review its procurement of those items that other local governmental bodies are buying at prices lower than the master contract prices.

Table 1:
  Survey Range
Item   County Cost Low High
Recycled Xerographic Paper (8.5x11", 20#, 84 brightness) delivered, 20 rms. per case, 10 case minimum   24.50 16.80 212.50
Post-It Notes (3x3, yellow, 12 per package, Mfg. #656Y)   .96 1.68 11.52
File folders (1/3 cut, 100 per box, 11 Pt., Smead #153)   1.58 3.70 17.60
Drinking water (5 gal. bottle)   2.10 5.75 29.00
Multifold hand towels (James River #24590, 250 per pack, 16 packs per case)   19.89 14.00 37.40
Trash can liner (33/39 gal., 200 per case, clear virgin   20.98 9.98 45.10
Windex industrial strength (1 gal.)   7.47 2.40 27.00
Envelope, printed (#10, 500 per box, commercial, 24#) per 5M   125.00 81.10 702.00

 

© 2014 Superior Court of San Mateo County