Texas buying site goes national

A 28-year-old Texas procurement program, boosted by revenues generated through

a new online site, went national at the beginning of this month.

State and local governments outside of Texas can now buy heavy equipment

and maintenance-related products from the Houston-Galveston Area Council

(H-GAC) Cooperative Purchasing Program.

The program, which began in 1973, was a relatively small effort until

the beginning of the 1990s, according to David Malloch, the H-GAC's cooperative

purchasing manager. Sales mushroomed as it expanded into capital-intensive

and high-dollar markets, and governments throughout Texas realized the value

of using the H-GAC's prefabricated contract.

Program revenues were just more than $50 million in 1995. This year,

Malloch said, they are expected to be more than $204 million, with future

increases of $50 million a year through 2004.

"The e-procurement site will be tremendously important to this future

growth," he said, having booked close to $70 million just in the six-month

period prior to the Sept. 1 expansion date. "It's already generated a large

number of inquiries from other governments, particularly foreign governments

such as the [United Kingdom] which are looking to use similar technology

in their own [e-government] operations."

Texas law previously prevented the H-GAC program from selling directly

to governments outside of the state, Malloch said, although the program

had supplied them with bid specifications and award details "as a goodwill

gesture." Now other governments will be able to participate as viable partners,

he said.

The online purchasing site ({http://www.hgacbuy.com} www.hgacbuy.com)

was developed through a partnership that includes H-GAC, Bank of America

Corp. and NIC Commerce, which manages the site. It features an online catalog

of more than 1,400 items from about 85 vendors, including such heavyweights

as Deere & Co., Ingersoll-Rand Co. and Mack Trucks I

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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