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County of Los Angeles' document-processing services partnership.

Lean fiscal times have, in many cases, transformed public/private partnerships from a novelty to a necessity. Jurisdictions are increasingly exploring progressive and mutually beneficial agreements to harness the resources and business savvy within the private sector and adapt those programs and processes into tools that will enable the delivery of more effective and efficient public services.

In accord with this evolution, the Country of Los Angeles and Xerox Corporation have pioneered an approach that restructures the public-sector procurement process with a comprehensive equipment and services purchase agreement. At its most basic level, this document-processing services partnership involves a commitment by Xerox to provide specified document processing equipment, products and services to the county at volume-discount rates. Such an arrangement is not uncommon; however, the agreement between the county and the corporation builds on the basic concept to magnify its provisions and benefits.

The arrangement allows the county to act as a supplies broker to other jurisdictions, enabling them to share in the savings produced by the partnership. Political jurisdictions in Los Angeles County and other government entities in the State of California are eligible to participate in the purchase agreement. By participating they enjoy other benefits, namely; product-testing services, expedited processing of procurement requests and financial expertise. Using this cost-effective procurement solution, smaller government entities can avail themselves of the bargaining power that the County of Los Angeles has created through its budget of $12 billion and employee base of more than 88,000.

Through this agreement, the county acts as a virtual service bureau to other jurisdictions, in most cases providing them enormous cost savings through volume discounts, and relieving them of the necessity to expend considerable time and resources on procurement and competitive-bidding processing, since the county agreement effectively preapproves the vendor.

The entire enjoys expanded business activity and vitality, and the taxpayers benefit through cost-effective purchasing on the part of the county and other participating jurisdictions. For its role, the county receives a credit from the corporation to offset the cost of these services and operations. While this credit is nominal per product, in aggregate it could represent a revenue source for the county.

In addition to offering a reliable supply of products and services at volume discounts, Xerox has made other commitments under the agreement. The firm will supply training, educational symposiums, and marketing and promotional support--all at no cost to the county.

This agreement went into effect late in 1990. By December '91 the county had received responses from many eligible jurisdictions and other political entities outside the State of California. More than 100 jurisdictions have purchased more than $10 million of equipment through the agreement, and these figures grow daily. It is the county's intent to expand this agreement to as many jurisdictions and entities as the law and reason allow. Such a productive relationship need not revolve solely around procurement of document-processing and -management equipment, however. Indeed, this arrangement has served as a model for similar partnerships for a great array of products and services. The Internal Services Department is focusing a two-year effort on streamlining and energizing the county's procurement and purchasing systems and processes. In seeking the most cost-effective methods for providing quality services to its citizens, Los Angeles County exploits the key capabilities and strengths of the public and private sectors to derive the greatest benefit to each. Two major factors drive this concept:

* the County Board of Supervisors has promoted contracting with the private sector for provision of services whenever it can be demonstrated that such an approach is more economical or feasible than providing these services with county employees, however;

* wherever the county provides services or possesses resources of value to the private sector, or to other public jurisdictions, the county "contracts in" for these services or markets access to appropriate resources.

In summary, Los Angeles County's agreement with the Xerox Corporation represents a partnership in the truest sense of the word, where both pricipals obtain clear and maximum benefit by pooling their mutual strengths, assets and resources. Clearly, this ushers in a new era, not only of creative cost-effective public and private partnership, but also regional and inter-jurisdictional cooperation and benefit-sharing.

RICHARD B. DIXON is chief administrative officer of the County of Los Angeles and president of the GFOA. He would like to cite the invaluable contribution of BARRY RAND, president of Xerox's U.S. Marketing Group, in achieving this unique and far-reaching agreement; Mr. Rand personally headed the firm's team in this effort and set a consistent tone of trust, cooperation and shared endeavor at every stage in its development.
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Title Annotation:product and services procurement cooperation with Xerox Corp.
Author:Dixon, Richard B.
Publication:Government Finance Review
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Previous Article:Washington wrap-up - 1991 annual report.
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