News Highlight

Harnessing the Region's Purchasing Power: Ice Melt

Feb 3, 2016
Walking in Rhode Island Avenue

Walking in Rhode Island Avenue (Joe Flood, Flickr)

Although winter arrived late (and with a vengeance!) to the region, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and area jurisdictions began working together over the summer to secure an essential tool for battling winter weather—ice melt.

Ice melt is used widely by jurisdictions to rid sidewalks and other walkways of ice for the safety of employees, students, and visitors to government buildings, schools, and other public spaces. The City of Rockville alone estimates they order 70,000 pounds of ice melt annually, and the District of Columbia 100,000 pounds.

This year, COG recognized an opportunity to save member governments’ time and taxpayer dollars, and led the effort to forge a cooperative contract for purchase of the ice melt. A cooperative contract harnesses the purchasing power of area jurisdictions to secure the best possible price per pound. Further, all of the staff time required to create and maintain the contract is assumed by COG.

Here’s how it worked: COG staff reached out to members of the Mid-Atlantic Purchasing Team (MAPT), governments, schools, and other entities across metropolitan Washington and the Baltimore regions, to determine who was interested in purchasing ice melt through a cooperative contract. Staff then worked alongside interested members to iron out the details; they discussed everything from quantity to delivery logistics. Next, staff crafted an invitation to bid, which was then circulated to vendors. Several bids were received. Samples of ice melt from vendors were even delivered to members to ensure that the product would meet environmental standards within their jurisdiction. The winning bidder was selected.

Through the cooperative contract, participating members save more than three dollars per 15 pound bag of ice melt, delivery included. It is estimated that the approximately 12 members who have taken advantage of the contract will collectively save over half a million dollars over the life of the year-long contract. And, now that it has been established, any MAPT member can start using the cooperative contract. Doing so will drive prices down even more. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Through the Cooperative Purchasing Program and Chief Purchasing Officers Committee (CPOC), COG will continue to identify common goods and commodities to buy in bulk or to pursue through a cooperative contract. Fairfax County’s Cathy Muse and Montgomery County’s Pam Jones have recently taken over as chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the committee, bringing decades of procurement experience.

The Mid-Atlantic Purchasing Team (MAPT) is a joint partnership between the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) to provide cooperative purchasing opportunities to members throughout the region. The MAPT region covers the District of Columbia, and parts of Maryland, and Virginia.

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