There is a Cooperative Procurement legislation for the State of Virginia. Once a vendor signs a contract referencing 'cooperative purchasing' with a Virginia government entity, other cities and counties can make purchases using the same conditions outlined in the contract.
In order to benefit from this procurement policy, we needed a better way to share information among jurisdictions. Procurement agents from one county or city previously had to call or email each other to inquire about each purchase separately. The information sat with each individual agency and was not transparent to others.
To solve the problem, I created a Google Group that allows area managers to share contract information and purchase support items and services cooperatively. We now have about 30 members from 12 cities and counties. We simply send out an email to the group, and everyone gets the notice. Or people can go to our website to check out the discussion thread or history to find the contracting information they need, with complete transparency.
We are now looking toward using the same system to purchase fuel for our vehicle fleets across the state, making purchases easier, more cost-effective, and more efficient. Information on Google Groups is available to all, and it takes little time to maintain once a group is set up. Using Google Apps and Google Groups has been virtually effortless, and has presented many opportunities for us to decrease costs and increase efficiencies.