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February 16th, 2011

Orange County cuts costs, saves money

Goshen - Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana and Commissioner of General Services James P. Burpoe attended the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages and Cities’ most recent gathering of County municipal leaders in Goshen to demonstrate how the County of Orange is saving money with its procurement process.

As the guest speaker, Commissioner Burpoe discussed how, over the next two years, state governments are expected to face shortfalls in excess of $260 billion dollars, meaning localities need to develop long term systemic changes.

"Local government and their procurement departments will need to recognize opportunities that exist and take action, just as Orange County government has done. They should be charged with looking for ways to streamline, delay or eliminate expenditures," said Burpoe.

Commissioner Burpoe advised the group that negotiation is key when buying goods and services. It is important to think as a group when making purchases, creating greater buying power.

Orange County, for example, realized better rates for utilities when they joined the Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA), a consortium that pools potential customers that bids out this power load to private energy service companies. The projected savings for the County in the first year is expected to be in excess of $600,000.

County Executive Diana said, "Because we are shopping with taxpayer money, the County is very mindful of the price tag, always asking vendors ‘Is that the best you can do?’"

Another change Burpoe discussed was office automation. By negotiating with copying vendors, the County went from paying $36,000 a month to $19,000 a month, in addition to the replacement of 152 all new, upgraded machines at no additional cost.

With shipping vendors, the County consolidated separate accounts that were originally held by each department creating volume pricing that translated into a 14% discount in 2011.

Lastly, Burpoe told the crowd that municipalities should not throw out surplus equipment. Instead, they should work with an auction house that will sell almost anything.

The Department of General Services encompasses the former Department of Purchasing, and centralizes three divisions: Procurement and Government Operations, Contract Compliance and Policy, and Grants.

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