Contract Purchasing FAQ
View frequently asked questions below covering NJPA as an organization and our contract purchasing services.
Q. WHO IS NJPA?
A. The National Joint Powers Alliance®, referred to as NJPA, is a Municipal Contracting agency operating under the legislative authority of Minnesota Statute 123A.21. This statute was created in 1978 and revised in 1995 to allow participating municipal agencies to reduce the cost of procurement by leveraging the benefits of contract purchasing. NJPA serves all education, government and non-profits agencies nationally.
A. NJPA employees are public employees. All employees are required to pay into Public Employment Retirement Association (PERA) through payroll deduction. One level of comfort for Members is that NJPA employees have the same employment status as NJPA municipal Members.
A. NJPA is governed by the NJPA Board of Directors. The eight-member board is comprised of governing officials; including school board, city council or county commissioners.
A. There is no cost, obligation or liability to join or participate in NJPA contracts.
A. NJPA is funded by a Vendor contract administrative fee. The fee is paid by the Vendor and not passed on to the NJPA Member. The fee covers the costs of contract marketing and facilitation, and it offsets operating expenses incurred by NJPA. NJPA does not receive state or federal aid, nor do we have taxing or levying authority. Therefore, we are a governmental agency, entirely entrepreneurial and functioning much like a self-supporting business. NJPA also shares these fees with other partner cooperatives or associations as they demonstrate the desire and ability to help facilitate and market available NJPA contracts.
A. The NJPA Bylaws, Article II, Subd. C describes our Membership and participation. Full voting Memberships are limited to the school districts, cities, counties and other governmental units defined in M.S. 471.59 and as established annually by the NJPA Board of Directors. Non-voting Memberships, what we call “Participating Memberships,” are available to all other partnership agencies or organizations that go online to www.njpacoop.org, click on the JOIN button and submit the required information. All Members are required to sign a Participating Membership agreement. These organizations are eligible to nominate their governing board members to serve on the NJPA Board. They also become responsible for any liabilities NJPA may incur. Participating Memberships are at no cost and carry no organizational liability.
A. Yes. At this point all current Participating Members are a part of our Board of Advisors. NJPA also has two Member Advisory Committees: one that specializes in the fleet industry and the primary advisory that represents procurement professionals from all of our Member verticals.
A. Yes, under M.S. 123A.21, all non-profit agencies may participate.
A. Minnesota Statute 471.59 Joint Exercise of Powers Law and our enabling legislation.
A. Membership establishes a legal paper trail between NJPA and the Member, justifying contract access. Access to competitively bid contracts, procured by a municipal contracting agency that your agency is a part of. Because our Membership is a Joint Powers Agreement, your municipality is an owner as well as a Member of NJPA. You actually become a represented participant in the bidding process. Considerable time and resource savings for participating Members. Nationally leveraged and aggregated pricing and services. Nationally acclaimed and recognized vendors. Broad range of high-quality products and services. Contracts solicited, awarded and monitored by a municipal agency and governed by a publicly elected board of directors. NJPA also conducts an annual, independent audit as a municipal contracting agency. The annual audit is submitted to the State of Minnesota as required by state law.
A. Yes, all NJPA contracts are non-exclusive and are contracts of choice by our Members.
A. Yes, in most states. All NJPA bid contracts have been competitively solicited nationally, reviewed and awarded by the NJPA Board of Directors in accordance with Minnesota public purchasing rules and regulations under the Municipal Contracting Laws, M.S. 471.345. Each solicitation and RFP contains language which includes all qualified customers in all fifty states. The RFP advises all responders that they must apply to all qualified customers in all fifty states and in some cases the provinces and territories of Canada. All RFP respondents understand that these contracts shall be used by member governmental, educational and non-profit agencies throughout the United States.
A. State Joint Powers Statutes generally allow for one government agency to purchase using contracts competitively solicited by another government agency. This, of course, would require the consent of all parties, including the supplier. NJPA’s contracts are established to meet both the competitive solicitation and consent requirements. Generally, a public or municipal agency may participate in, conduct or administer a cooperative procurement agreement with one or more other governmental units for the purpose of meeting requirements to increase efficiency or reduce administrative expenses. A cooperative agreement also allows for the purchase of supplies, materials, equipment or services by qualified agencies so as not to repeat or duplicate the competitive bidding requirements necessary for a governmental agency purchase. The term “Governmental Unit” as used here usually includes every city, county, town, school district or other political subdivision of this or another state; the state university; any agency of the state or of the United States, and any instrumentality of a governmental unit. In some states, this power is not passed on to specific municipal agencies. These agreements are known as Joint Powers Agreements, Membership Agreements, Participation Agreements and sometimes Intergovernmental or Interlocal Agreements.
A. As a municipal agency, NJPA is required to provide full disclosure of all procurement documents and files. Procurement files are electronically available on our website
or in hard copy at our office during normal NJPA business hours.
NJPA contracts are made up of the terms and conditions of the RFP, submitted and accepted pricing and discount schedule and the Acceptance Award document signed by the NJPA board and awarded vendor.
A. NJPA conducts a thorough 10-step process that includes: 1) Researching Member Needs. 2) Researching the Market for Solutions. 3) Drafting and Advertising an RFP. 4) Receiving Bidders’ Responses. 5) Evaluating Bidders’ Responses. 6) Making Recommendations to the NJPA Board. 7) Awarding Vendor(s). 8) Posting Approved Contract Documents. 9) Developing and Implementing a Joint Marketing Plan with Awarded Vendors. 10) Reviewing and Maintaining our Contract throughout Its Term. Read the full process here
A. Qualifying agencies must register for Membership and may join in a matter of minutes. Apply online
; download and complete a hard copy, or call 888-894-1930 to receive your application by mail.
A. After Membership has been established, the Member selects the contract of choice from our purchasing catalog and contacts the Vendor directly for specific product, service, ordering and delivery information. Billing is executed by the servicing Vendor or manufacturer. NJPA monitors contract compliance by the Vendor to ensure a high level of service, quality of goods and general customer satisfaction as expressed by the Member. Prior to executing the purchase order, it would be the Member’s responsibility to review and accept the general terms and conditions of the specific RFP of interest and at that point, execute the purchase order directly with the awarded Vendor. Your Membership allows the NJPA Board of Directors and NJPA staff to facilitate the bid and procurement responsibilities on your behalf.
A. NJPA requires “manufacturer product and service responsibility”. This eliminates the transferring of blame in the event the customer is not satisfied. Responding manufacturers accept this responsibility and, in extreme cases, NJPA would be involved in specific communications to ensure the customer is satisfied with the complete process of procurement and contract compliance. NJPA contracts are four-year terms, reviewed annually for compliance. This level of assurance and review will give Members the leverage necessary to insure the highest level of products and service.
A. NJPA encourages all national Vendors to respond to the NJPA RFP solicitations. Our bids are solicited, advertised and posted on www.njpacoop.org (our website), www.noticetobidders.com and in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.