Expanding on Buy Boards

Some of the largest cooperative procurement programs for DCR contractors

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In the March issue, we talked about the best way to get your share of lucrative government disaster recovery contracts, using cooperative procurement programs or “buy boards.” In this installment, we’ll provide some actionable information on the more prominent of the national programs and how to find and register with them and their state and local counterparts.

Let’s be real, you probably didn’t get into this line of work because you enjoy researching. But the hard fact is, the better you get at exploring possible customers, potential areas to work in, your markets and competition, the more successful you’re likely to be. You’ve heard it before, but knowledge really is power, and you have the power of knowledge at your fingertips, either on your desktop or your phone. You just have to know where to look, and we suggest starting with the resources listed here.


We’ll begin with the obvious authority for would-be disaster relief contractors: the Federal Emergency Management Agency. No one in this business is unaware of this nationwide authority. But FEMA usually works with contractors through sam.gov, the official clearinghouse for federal government contracting opportunities. 


Contract opportunities are available on sam.gov from people who make, receive and manage federal awards. This is where organizations within the federal government publish notices on proposed contract actions valued at more than $25,000.


The Federal Contractor Registry is an opportunity listing site specifically for FEMA disaster cleanup jobs.


Each year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deploys hundreds of trained personnel and resources across the United States and its territories, in response to emergencies and to aid in disaster response and recovery. Under the National Response Framework and authorities of the Stafford Act, USACE works under the direction of FEMA as a member of the federal team to support state and local governments in responding to major disasters. USACE also has its own authority to directly respond to state and local needs related to flooding or coastal emergencies, under Public Law 84-99.

The NRF defines fifteen Emergency Support Functions, each having a designated Coordinating Agency. As the coordinating and primary agency for Emergency Support Function No. 3 — Public Works and Engineering — USACE is responsible for coordinating and executing several missions in the post-disaster environment. Its core missions are listed below. FEMA commonly also requests additional support and technical assistance beyond these core mission areas from USACE:

  • Temporary emergency power
  • Debris management
  • Temporary housing and critical public facilities 
  • Temporary roofing 
  • Infrastructure assessment, technical assistance and water/wastewater response
  • Support to urban search & rescue 


You may be familiar with the former FedBid job posting and bidding website, which is now Unison Marketplace, a fully-managed online marketplace connecting sellers to federal and commercial opportunities. 


Of course, the Department of Homeland Security also needs disaster cleanup and recovery services on occasion. Their Acquisition Planning Forecast System is a portal for small business vendors to view contracts anticipated to exceed $250,000.


Another major player in federal procurement is the General Services Administration. You can find an overview of the GSA’s programs to help state and local government entities to purchase cooperatively. Though this isn’t an opportunity listing site itself, it’s full of great insider information about the GSA’s advice to these lower-level entities on procurement best practices. Making sure you know what these are is akin to writing your services into bid requirements.


The Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers exists to help you in getting government contracts. 96 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, with more than 300 local offices, form a nationwide network of dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs. Think of this as an online coach that helps you navigate the procurement process more successfully. 


The original buy board started in Texas for statewide online goods and services procurement. It quickly grew to allow government entities from other states to participate, and is now one of the most popular and well-known such websites in the country. The BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative was formed by governmental entities to streamline the buying process for public schools, municipalities and other governmental entities. Developed to assist members in complying with their purchasing legal requirements, BuyBoard vendors have been awarded contracts for products and services through a competitive procurement process, thereby giving members the opportunity for bulk discounts, combined with the ease of online, web-based shopping. 

Please note that registering does not give your company automatic participation in the BuyBoard. As with other such sites, vendors must be awarded a BuyBoard proposal to participate. Here’s what you need for BuyBoard vendor registration:

  • Tax ID number
  • Annual gross sales
  • Years in business
  • Special classifications such as minority-owned or woman-owned business

The six-step registration process includes:

  • Accepting the BuyBoard terms and conditions
  • Providing your company information
  • Providing primary address information
  • Vendor classification
  • Providing primary user information
  • Reviewing & Submitting the registration

HGACBUY (Helping Governments Across the Country Buy)

Another Texas-based, nationwide government procurement service striving to make the governmental procurement process more efficient, the HGACBuy Cooperative brings together units of local government, including nonprofits providing governmental services, to procure their needs cooperatively. All contracts available to participating members of HGACBuy are awarded by virtue of a public, competitive procurement process, compliant with state statutes. 

HGACBuy acts as the designated purchasing agent on behalf of participating members, by performing specific services:

  • Developing specifications for competitive bids and proposals
  • Soliciting vendor participation
  • Conducting pre-bid/pre-proposal conferences
  • Conducting public bid/proposal openings of responses
  • Evaluating responses and making award recommendations
  • Executing vendor contracts awarded by the HGAC board of directors
  • Maintaining contract information available through HGACBuy’s website
  • Contract administration


  • Specifications are prepared and an Invitation to Attend Pre-Bid/Proposal Conference is sent to known interested parties. The solicitation documents are posted on our website and advertised in certain newspapers, per legal requirements.
  • The Pre-Bid/Proposal conference is held online on the specified date and time
  • Responses are evaluated in accordance with established criteria and contract award recommendations are made to HGAC’s board of directors
  • Contracts are offered to the successful bidders/proposers, and go into effect after signed and returned


Lastly, we have the NIGP, which provides an extensive list of U.S. procurement programs. Most helpful, they also offer tips for best practices. These keep you from getting disqualified because you overlooked something, worded something wrong, or otherwise went afoul of what they’re looking for in your bid. 

If you’re most interested in local and state procurement, your best bet is to check these entities’ websites for their particular rules and registration forms and processes.


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