Local government in Garden State upgrades Web site
Businesses of all sizes can learn about procurement opportunities within Essex County, N.J., thanks to the county’s new Purchasing Portal interactive Web site. The goals of the site: Improve operating efficiency and enhance outreach to the business community.
“We are committed to having a procurement process as open and competitive as possible, as well as making it easier for vendors who are interested in doing business with Essex County to apply for contracts. This uniquely designed Web page is our latest tool to inform and link vendors with procurement opportunities with Essex County,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said. “Through this portal, vendors can register their company with Essex County and be automatically notified about various procurement opportunities that fit the business profile they submit. All information can be easily downloaded, at any time of the day, making it easier for vendors to conduct business when it’s convenient for them. All of this was designed to make doing business with Essex County easier and more efficient.”
DiVincenzo noted the potential savings for Essex County in photocopying and postage costs could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The Purchasing Portal is an extraordinary tool that will help our office run more efficiently and enable our employees to focus on their responsibilities as purchasing agents instead of copying and mailing documents,” he said. “This brings us into the 21st century.”
The portal can be accessed directly or by clicking on the Purchasing Portal link found on the Essex County Web site. The portal includes listings of all contracts for competitively bid goods and services, requests for proposals and qualifications, and cooperative purchasing opportunities. One feature of the Purchasing Portal is a cyber “site tour.” This option will display “help” balloons that explain to vendors how to navigate the Web site if they are having difficulties.
Funding for the design of the Purchasing Portal came from a 2007 PARIS (Public Archives and Records Infrastructure Support) Shared Services Grant awarded to Essex County by the New Jersey Division of Records and Archives Management.
Prospective vendors must register online
Vendors that want to do business with Essex County must register their business online and provide contact information and their New Jersey business registration certificate. Vendors then can select the types of contracts they would like to be notified about from a list of 83 commodities. Contract specifications and necessary forms can be downloaded directly from the Web site. (Selected bid specifications, such as those that include maps, may not be able to be downloaded from the site. In these cases, printed materials will be available from the Office of Purchasing.)
Vendors still are required to mail or hand-deliver their completed proposals to the Office of Purchasing in the Essex County Hall of Records.
Procurement opportunities and the awarded contracts will remain on the purchasing Web site for one year. The information easily can be accessed by vendors or members of the public.
Resource guide details procurement process
To explain Essex County’s procurement process and raise awareness about the opportunities to do business with the county, the Essex County Office of Purchasing has published a resource guide, “How to Do Business with Essex County.”
In addition, the Essex County Office of Small Business Development and Affirmative Action launched its online Vendor Registration System in June 2007 to enable small and women- and minority-owned businesses to register their companies with Essex County and be alerted about procurement opportunities with Essex. The office also has hosted a variety of business development and networking expos for small and women- and minority-owned businesses.