Largest Arizona County Produces Cost & Environmental Savings for Agency & Residents
An ongoing battle in Maricopa County, Arizona involves the air. Throughout the year in the nation’s second largest county, lawn mowers and garden equipment powered by gasoline can create poor air quality. Just one hour spent using a leaf blower is equal to the emissions of driving your car 1,100 miles. During winter, a combination of wood burning and stagnant weather adds to the problem.
These pollutants–combined with emissions from vehicles, other gas and diesel equipment and industrial or chemical processes–form ground-level or “bad” ozone that stays near the surface. Breathing ozone pollution can trigger or worsen a variety of health problems.
This threat is a priority of the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD), the agency dedicated to improving the air its citizens breathe. The Air Quality team is transforming the way pollution is reduced by empowering people living and working in the vibrant county to take control of how their environment is treated.
By leveraging the strategic best practice of cooperative purchasing, Maricopa County’s Procurement and Air Quality teams are taking proactive steps to solve the problem and better the health of community members.
Maricopa County’s Deputy Chief Procurement Officer James Foley assists in overseeing $750 million in annual expenditures for 55 county departments. The Office of Procurement Services serves as the main contracting department for the county sourcing all supplies, services and construction requirements.
“Cooperative purchasing has been one resource that has allowed us to meet the demands of residents in the fastest growing county in the country,” says Foley. “We must be able to move rapidly in a smart, cost-effective, and transparent manner in the acquisition of supplies and services.”
Through the use of a cooperative purchasing organization, the Maricopa County procurement team has developed great relationships working with vendors on the successful solutions that fulfill the needs of the county’s internal departments, and in this case, advancing the unique mission of the Air Quality Department.
The Maricopa County Air Quality Department set out to identify the most efficient and cost-effective way to reduce the negative impacts of ground-level ozone and the number of days their region exceeds the federal health standard for air pollution.
They worked toward providing residents with the tools they need to take action, specifically with lawn/garden equipment and fire pits. The idea was to launch a new resident voucher program offering eco-friendly versions of these types of outdoor equipment at a lower price through the buying power of their cooperative and industry-leading supplier partner Home Depot Pro.
Maricopa County Air Quality Department Communications Officer Ari Halpert leads campaigns promoting programs and incentives like these and initiates creative ways to build connections and partnerships between their department, businesses, and residents. Working closely with supplier partner Home Depot Pro, they developed a voucher redemption process.
“The behind-the-scenes logistics of this program were quite complex,” says Halpert. “We had to collaborate and exchange ideas to simplify the process. Through successful collaboration that included many team meetings, phone calls, e-mail exchanges, and hours of work, we were able to create a process that did not exist before.”
The new process involved a streamlined system in which residents can redeem a program voucher to receive discounts. Home Depot Pro’s cooperative contracts enabled the Air Quality team to explore options and develop the best possible process to provide services to Maricopa County residents.
“Our goal was to make it easier for residents to participate in the program and be part of the solution to improve air quality,” says Halpert.
Through the partnership with OMNIA Partners and Home Depot Pro, the Air Quality Department facilitates two programs working to reduce air pollution and improve the conditions for residents and visitors: Maricopa County Propane Fire Pit Program and Maricopa County Mowing Down Pollution Program.
“Partnering with Home Depot was crucial to the success of the programs,” says Halpert. “We worked to improve the voucher process and increase the efficiency in which residents could participate. Together we developed a paperless, hassle-free transaction where residents could use digital or cell phone access to the product discount voucher, eliminating the need for a printer.”
Participating Home Depot locations display program posters with QR codes that residents can scan with their phone while in the store and receive a voucher for the product discount within minutes. Allowing customers to leave the store with their new fire pit in one trip has increased customer satisfaction with the program, while also reducing driving, gasoline usage, and vehicle emissions.
“This is a great opportunity for cities, counties and states to improve their environment and lead the way in a direction the nation is already moving,” says Cameron Mickey, National Account Manager – Home Depot Pro. “Reducing emissions and cleaning up the air will benefit your children and grandchildren, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If your agency would like to create a similar program, we can set it up for you to meet your unique needs and make sure it’s cost-effective and seamless for you.”Other states and government agencies have seen the success of these innovative programs and have adopted a similar voucher process for their own state programs.
|Maricopa County Propane Fire Pit Program||Combats poor seasonal air quality and provides cleaner-burning options for wood burning activities.||MCAQD partnered with the Arizona Propane Gas Association and Home Depot Pro to offer vouchers worth $75 off the purchase of an outdoor propane fire pit.|
|Maricopa County Mowing Down Pollution Program||Electric and battery powered lawn and garden equipment is quieter and cleaner and eliminates the hassle of obtaining and using gasoline.||MCAQD partnered with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Home Depot Pro to offer vouchers worth $200 off the purchase of new electric or battery-powered lawn mowers and garden equipment when residents recycle their gasoline-powered versions.|
“Cooperative purchasing has provided us a tool to rapidly meet numerous day-to-day customer requirements so that procurement staff can focus on more strategic, program specific, and/or project needs with allocated resources,” says James Foley, Deputy Chief Procurement Officer, Maricopa County.
Utilizing cooperative contracts has helped Maricopa County reduce the need for new solicitations that duplicate what others have already competed. This allows limited staff resources to work on other projects and programs to meet customer expectations.
“The use of the Home Depot Pro contract has resulted in thousands of dollars in rebates remitted to the county annually for purchases that are based on competitive prices in the marketplace,” says Foley. “It has also provided us with an avenue to create new resident outreach programs with innovative ideas and processes that save time and limit confusion for all parties involved.”
Maricopa County serves as an OMNIA Partners lead agency, one of the most elite procurement teams in the nation. Lead agencies complete the competitive solicitation process so that other government agencies, schools and universities can benefit from and use the already publicly solicited and awarded cooperative contracts.
“The lead agency model of cooperative contracting reduces the administrative burden of purchasing and expedites the purchasing process for using entities in the most transparent manner while meeting all required statutory requirements,” says Foley. “It allows both larger and smaller entities to take advantage of competitively procured contracts that offer the ability to lower purchasing costs for end users.”
As organizations deal with national challenges affecting prices, labor and the supply chain, cooperative purchasing allows them to transform and streamline their procurement process while meeting stakeholders’ needs faster and more efficiently.
“We need to embrace technology and work with agile policies and procedures to allow us to reach the widest possible supplier audience of local and national providers so that we can build resilient and sustainable relationships that permit us to pivot when necessary,” says Foley. “Technology improvements will need to guide the transparent development of new systems to provide continuous improvement in public purchasing.”
The Air Quality Department’s success in leveraging cooperative purchasing can serve as an inspiration to other agencies exploring strategic opportunities for significant cost and time savings.
“By gaining and sharing knowledge with other thought leaders across the purchasing community, we are positioned to develop the best possible solutions,” says Foley. “Having the cooperative in place allows us to respond to the needs of our residents in a more timely and cost-effective manner.”
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The Home Depot Pro, through OMNIA Partners, supports state and local government agencies to save you time and money. Our contract makes it easier than ever to get the supplies you need, with access to competitive pricing in top categories such as Paint, Building Materials, Flooring, Plumbing, Electrical, and more.
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