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Barnstable County uses a regional approach to centralize procurement between its 15 towns

Barnstable County

Massachusetts

Barnstable County’s paper-based procurement processes made necessary communication and collaboration between its 15 various towns difficult. By digitizing procurement, the county expanded its procurement capacity and is helping its towns deliver more cost-effective, on-budget solutions.

Topics Covered

Transparency
Process Improvement

Cost

Initial: 10 Thousand USD

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2020

Gov Champion

Chief Procurement Officer

Problem Addressed

Paper-based processes impeded process and documentation management, as well as collaboration between county departments.

Since the towns in Barnstable County don’t have dedicated procurement departments, working together allows them to leverage their resources and networks to meet collective needs and enhance purchasing power. A lack of a central place to store information and best practices made collaboration between towns difficult.

Coordinating cooperative bids for 15 towns is already complex enough, but paper-based processes made collaboration and communication even more challenging for county Chief Procurement Officer Jennifer Frates.

Because the county doesn’t have a dedicated procurement team, time-consuming work like putting together spreadsheets or bid tabulations was performed manually by Frates. The paper-based process became even more frustrating when vendors responding to RFPs submitted hard-copy pricing and the handwriting was illegible.

“I had one project for roadway construction where the bid opening itself—having to read all of the unit pricing—took over three hours. By the end of it, I had no voice left,” Frates said. After, she would have to manually enter all the information into a spreadsheet and distribute it to evaluators over email. It was clear that the county’s lack of digital processes for procurement resulted in too much time being spent on clerical tasks.

No process for collecting or analyzing data

The county’s procurement processes made performing tedious day-to-day work time-consuming, but its lack of a mechanism for collecting and analyzing data prevented any data-driven process improvements. Without knowing how procurement or purchasing could be improved, the county was stuck doing things the same way it always did. That meant working with the same small pool of vendors, paying more for commodities and services, wasting excessive time on the procurement process, and, ultimately, limiting the county’s time to deliver value for citizens.

Solutions Used

The county digitized procurement to centralize processes and make data-driven decisions

Seeing that digital procurement was necessary to maximize collaboration and deliver more cost-effective services, the County worked with Bonfire to create an eProcurement hub that would enable the sharing of information and processes.

Centralized information

With collaboration occurring between so many internal departments, evaluators, and vendors, Barnstable County brought important information and processes into one centralized platform that everyone can access. Stakeholders can see where others are in the procurement process and easily view feedback.

Silvio Genao, Superintendent of Public Works and Natural Resources for the Town of Eastham in Barnstable, said, “With Bonfire, I’m able to log in and see a great timeline from where the process started. I can submit my comments. I can download the bid results when they’re done. And it’s all there, not only now, but six months from now if I need it.”

Automated processes

Rather than starting from scratch with every project, Barnstable needed to be able to quickly post and evaluate bids and reduce the time to get projects off the ground. “Instead of three-hour bid openings and sometimes days of putting together spreadsheets, it’s done within a minute,” Chief Procurement Officer Jennifer Frates said. “So, the bid closes at 11:00, for example, and at11:01, I have all the information I need right in front of me.”

Increase internal capacity

At a time when adding headcount just wasn’t feasible, digitizing procurement workflows was the only way to up the efficiency and deliver more value with less budget. Using the new eProcurement platform, the county has reduced the administrative workload so staff can focus on high-level strategic planning and decisions.

Outcomes

1

Barnstable County was able to increase internal capacity and manage more RFPs without increasing employee headcount

2

The more efficient procurement process has increased the number of vendor submissions to the county, resulting in greater competition and cost savings

3

The county enabled its 15 towns to better collaborate and use resources to more effectively meet collective needs

4

Access to data insights allows the county to make strategic decisions that improve procurement processes

5

Automated processes have allowed county staff to recoup time previously spent performing procurement operations manually

Who Should Consider

Public sector procurement teams looking to expand procurement capacity and drive better value for the constituents they serve through centralized, automated eProcurement.

Government Project Team

  • Jennifer Frates, Chief Procurement Officer for Barnstable County
  • Silvio Genao, Superintendent of Public Works and Natural Resources for the Town of Eastham

Last Updated

May 12th, 2022
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