Our mission is to acquire goods and services in a timely manner, at the lowest possible cost, consistent with the quality specified and in compliance with all applicable mandated procurement legislation, while remaining transparent, competitive and fair in our business practices. Purchasing has the responsibility of maximizing competition, obtaining fair prices and assuring accountability for the procurement of materials, supplies, equipment and services required by the Township of Howell, with taxpayers’ money. Purchasing must perform with the highest integrity while we are constantly being asked to manage the procurement process more effectively, to secure better economic results, to speed up the process and to be innovative in accomplishing our mission.
Shared Services is encouraged and supported through the use of New Jersey State and various County Cooperative Purchasing Contracts. National Cooperative Contracts are also now permitted as an additional method of procurement. The use of many of these contracts saves time and expense, if it is determined that it is advantageous for the Township of Howell to utilize, after we have evaluated and analyzed the products, prices and value. Purchasing helps offset economic problems and maximizes the use of our limited resources by continuously seeking out new shared services. Our mission is a great challenge and an exciting one.
Public purchasing is a management tool for acquiring goods and services, but it also involves planning, meeting all statutory requirements, and ensuring fair and open competition. The purchasing function also involves contract administration, preparation of formal bids, and request for proposals. Purchasing interacts with professionals, vendors, and user departments, assisting them with purchasing procedures, contracts, purchase orders, and payments.
Public purchasing involves so much more than finding the lowest price. It involves finding the right goods and services in the right quality, quantity, for the right price, and at the right time. It also involves finding the right source while using the right method. Equally, or even more important, is gaining the public trust as custodian of their money, ensuring them of fair and open competition.
Public vs. Private Purchasing
The public purchasing process is subject to many statutory and regulatory rules that are not required in private industry. There are several state approved methods for obtaining pricing. Monetary thresholds determine the need for either quotes or sealed bids.
There are many state and local requirements that must be met prior to awarding any contract. Determining, what is required, by whom, when and how, are all part of public purchasing. Unlike purchasing in the private sector, public purchasing process needs to be open to scrutiny, to ensure taxpayer trust in government and must be fair and open, without any perception of favoritism or impropriety.
Legal Basis for Public Purchasing in NJ and the Township of Howell
The Local Public Contracts Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11) and the Administrative Code (N.J.A.C. 5:30 & 5.34) are the main statutory and regulatory requirements on a state level. The Township of Howell’s Code of Ethics and Conduct Ordinance, No. 0-05-20, addresses the procedure for awarding professional service contracts. There are, however, several other statutes that govern public purchasing. To name a few:
- Affirmative Action
- Business Registration Certificate
- Prevailing Wage
- Prompt Payment Act
- Public Works Contractor Certificate
- Stockholder Disclosure Certificate
Qualified Purchasing Agent (QPA)
A qualified purchasing agent is the individual who has the authority, responsibility, and accountability for the purchasing activity of the township and who has completed appropriate training and has purchasing experience.