The passage of the Commonwealth Procurement Code, Act 57 of 1998, authorized LPPUs and state-affiliated entities to engage in cooperative purchasing with the Commonwealth. In spring 2004, DGS developed the COSTARS Program to increase the cooperative purchasing options available to its members.
In 2004, the General Assembly passed an amendment to the Code that expanded DGS’s authority, allowing DGS to enter into contracts exclusively for the benefit of LPPUs and state-affiliated entities. DGS has included these special non-Commonwealth agency contracts, known as “COSTARS-exclusive contracts”, as part of its COSTARS Program. All DGS contracts through which LPPUs and state-affiliated entities may make purchases, including specific statewide agency contracts as well as COSTARS-exclusive contracts, are part of the COSTARS Program.
Member-Specific Benefits of COSTARS Participation:
Allowing local government’s participation in the state’s purchasing program has saved taxpayers thousands of dollars each year. The savings can span a wide array of necessary municipal services such as sewer rehabilitation, plow trucks, road salt reserves, police vehicles, mowers & tractors, dump trucks, and traffic control road equipment. These PA state contracts are useful when purchases need to be made quickly, saving time and manpower usually reserved for advertising, writing specs, and analyzing bids. Additionally, by using COSTARS members are able to streamline the bidding process or possibly even eliminating it entirely. Consider the following when deciding on membership:
Flexibility – A wide selection of commodities and suppliers are offered to the +7,000 program members. Over 200 state contracts, with a pool of more than 2,000 suppliers, are currently available for use by participants. The variety of choices provide public agencies the option to keep their procurement dollars in their local economy, thereby helping to maintain and generate jobs and advancing local economic development. Participation in any COSTARS purchasing is completely voluntary; each member is free to obtain supplies and services through its regular procurement procedures.
Cooperative Purchasing Requirements – Because the Commonwealth awards contracts through its own competitive bidding process, COSTARS procurements meet the cooperative purchasing requirements under the Commonwealth Procurement Code for local government purchasing.
Best Value – Members have the ability to review prices and product information on the COSTARS website and may contact various contractors to receive the best value for their purchase. Factors considered may include administrative cost and time-savings, compatibility with existing equipment, delivery time, or keeping spending in their local community.
Convenience – Using contracts established by DGS facilitates the purchase of supplies and services by simply issuing a purchase order to a contractor.
Education – Free training, workshops, and a quarterly newsletter are provided by COSTARS staff to assist members on how to use contracts, how to purchase from specific contracts of interest, as well as other topics of interest and trends in government purchasing.
Members will always have the assured stamp of quality that comes with each COSTARS supplier.
Entities eligible for COSTARS membership include any LPPU defined as:
Any political subdivision (local government unit), such as a municipality, school district, or commission
Any public authority
Any tax-exempt, nonprofit educational or public health institution/organization
Any nonprofit fire, rescue, or ambulance company
Any other entity that spends public funds for the procurement of supplies, services, and construction (such as a council of governments, an area government, or an organization that receives public grant funds)
A state-affiliated entity is a Commonwealth authority or other Commonwealth entity that is not a Commonwealth agency. The term includes:
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System
The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority
The State Public School Building Authority
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Facilities Authority
The State System of Higher Education
Becoming a Member:
Provided your organization meets the eligibility requirements outlined, you may register your local public procurement unit (LPPU) or state-affiliated entity as a COSTARS member by completing the online registration form or by calling the COSTARS team at 1-866-768-7827. Only LPPUs and state-affiliated entities who have registered with the Department of General Services (DGS) may participate in the COSTARS purchasing program. If you are unsure of your organization’s eligibility, contact DGS’s COSTARS team via the COSTARS e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply fill out the online registration and submit the form. In either case, DGS will evaluate your organization and get back to you concerning your status.
Official website: https://www.dgs.pa.gov/COSTARS/Pages/default.aspx
Phone Number: 1-866-768-STAR(7827)
Department of General Services
555 Walnut Street
6th Floor Forum Place
Harrisburg PA 17101