City staff asks for a blank check

Item 24.2 on the Tuesday, April 4, 2017 city council agenda would allow the city manager or his designee to purchase items from buy boards with no financial limits.

Currently they are limited to $500,000 at a time.

If council approves this action we might as well not have a purchasing department.

Buy boards do not offer merchandise or services at the lowest price derived from a bid.  Instead they are more of a “beauty contest” that lists companies that are willing to pay the agency running the buy board a percentage of any sales they make through the process.

Purchases made through buy boards typically do not end up on city council agendas.  We thus have no idea who city staff is giving business to.

We deserve better


16 Responses to City staff asks for a blank check

  1. Tim says:

    Actually Buy Board, Region 19-ASC, TXMAS, GSA contracts, etc. are competitively bid.


    • Brutus says:

      Most people think of bids being awarded based on price. The buy boards have approved suppliers that offer prices like “10% off manufacturer’s suggested retail price”.

      Buying from buy boards gives the government employees the ability to pick their brand and their supplier.

      The buy board then receives a percentage of the sale amount from the supplier.


  2. Anon says:

    “The BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative is a national online purchasing cooperative formed between the National School Boards Association and several state school boards associations to streamline the buying process for schools, municipalities and other public entities. Developed to comply with state laws which require government entities to make purchases from an approved list of vendors who have gone through a competitive procurement process, BuyBoard gives districts the advantage of leveraging the cooperative’s ability to obtain bulk discounts, combined with the ease of online, web-based shopping and ordering. Save time and money with BuyBoard. – See more at:


  3. Reality Checker says:

    No financial limits. That is the real issue. It’s a continuing financial power grab by a city manager who has a sketchy past. When someone wants total financial control, it usually means that they want to do things that they know would not be approved by others. If the speed of approvals is why he says this is needed, then city council needs to go back to meeting weekly. If these approvals are removed from the city council meeting agendas, the public will no longer be aware of many of these expenditures and the vendors being awarded the business. Maybe that’s part of the reason for this request. They want to send even more business out of town without the public knowing about it.


  4. Dan Wever says:

    The Superintendent of the EPISD has authority to spend up to $250,000 without board approval. Buy boards were created to get around the rules and regulations that school districts and other government agencies had to follow when buying for their districts. The main buy boards have things for sale that stay on the board for 12 or 18 months at the same price. Computers and other equipment is upgraded more often that that and people using these buy boards are many times paying much more than the present going price.
    Most of the EPISD use of the buy boards, most of the time, sends money out of El Paso. It is just an extra level of profit for someone and it makes it easier for the Superintendent as the board does not have to approve. It also makes it much easier to do things that could not be done otherwise with some protection built into the system.


    • Tim says:

      “buy boards are many times paying much more than the present going price.”

      I can only speak to facility maintenance supplies, but with 18 years selling these in government markets, I can tell you this is simply not true. Many items in the market basket of good offered are at single digit gross margin levels, and typically government sales are overall the least profitable at both gross and net level


      • Dan Wever says:

        The things that I saw and checked were computers, printers, software etc.. It is funny that so many new buy boards have popped up in the last few years, it seems like many Regions have gone into the business. Buyboards make the job easier for school districts but it ends up costing more as the school districts still have all the people in purchasing.


        • Tim says:

          Actually had a purchasing director, after listening to a presentation on how to effectively use state wide contracts to make the purchasing function more effective and productive, tell me, “I agree with what you presented. It all makes sense, but,you see those xx number of buyers? Bidding everything ourselves, at the lowest dollar threshold, is job security for them and me. I will never change our rules. My job is to keep me and my staff employed, not save money.”


          • Dan Wever says:

            So you would get rid of them and just go with buy boards? They would love that! Remember the function of the Regions, to help the little guys compete with the big guys by becoming “buyboards” for common materials? It has gone a lot further than was planned.


    • Anon says:

      Stay on topic Dan, stay on topic. Breathe deeply. No one was talking about EPISD. We all know how much you hate EPISD. Your chance will come. Deep breaths.


      • Dan Wever says:

        This topic was giving someone authority to spend 500,000 bucks and I just pointed out that the EPISD has a 250,000 limit. If you cannot see a connection I feel sorry for you.


      • Dan Wever says:

        Also Anon, I did not realise that you had been appointed forum cop on this blog. I guess it is a lot easier bad mouthing people when using a pseudonym. Seems you like everything that happens in the EPISD and are able to make excuses for the really bad things. 🙂


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