BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative FAQ


 National Purchasing Cooperative

What is BuyBoard?

The National School Boards Association has collaborated with the Rhode Island Association of School Committees and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to create the BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative. The Cooperative  is an administrative agency created in accordance with the Maryland Annotated Code, State Finance and Procurement, Section 13-110 (West 2009), and the Rhode Island General Laws, Section 16-2-9.2 (2009).  Its purpose is to obtain the benefits and efficiencies that can accrue to members of a cooperative, to comply with the procurement requirements in many states, and to identify qualified vendors of commodities, goods, and services. All items or catalogs will be posted to a secure web site, called the BuyBoard®, so cooperative members can search for items, pricing, and vendors. The Cooperative also relieves the burdens of governmental purchasing by effectively using current technology and realizing economies of scale.

The operational backbone of BuyBoard is a web-based system developed and perfected by the Texas Association of School Boards, a system that has been highly successful in serving school districts and other local government entities in Texas for more than a decade, with proven reliability and integrity.

In many states, a purchasing cooperative enables school districts (and other public entities governed by competitive procurement requirements) to take advantage of bids awarded by the cooperative.  The National Purchasing Cooperative leverages the power of a nationwide network of purchasers to drive down prices of commodities, goods, and services by providing the successful vendor (s) the opportunity for a higher quantity of sales.  

Who is eligible to participate?

School districts that are members of their state School Boards Association are eligible to participate and join the cooperative.  In addition, other public entities (such as municipalities, counties, colleges and universities) may participate to take advantage of the low bid prices attained through a National Purchasing Cooperative.   Each school district or other public entity is responsible for determining whether its participation in the Cooperative is allowable under its state and local laws.

How does my entity join the Cooperative?

Membership in the Cooperative is free.  Districts (or other governmental entities) that want to participate download the Interlocal Participation Agreement from the NSBA BuyBoard website .  These materials include a sample resolution (for school districts only) that can be adopted by the Governing Board authorizing the entity to participate in cooperative purchasing. 

After the governing board has authorized participation, the entity faxes the enrollment form to BuyBoard (703-519-6497).  For school districts, staff at BuyBoard will verify with the State Association that the school district is a member of its State Association in good standing and then provide the eligible district with a login and password to the BuyBoard purchasing web site.  Enrolled school districts will register their staff members who are authorized to access the BuyBoard web site.  Districts that are not members of their State Association will have their materials returned with a clarification that they must be a member of their State Association to be eligible to participate in the Cooperative. Membership with their State Association only applies to school districts; other public entities may join regardless of state association membership.

All contracts and payments for purchases are solely between the vendor and the purchasing entity.   New BuyBoard members are welcome at any time.

How does the Cooperative work and how do I order products?

The Cooperative analyzes and makes award recommendations for products and services that have been submitted for competitive procurement. All awarded items or catalogs will be posted on the secure BuyBoard web site so that BuyBoard members can search for and select items and order. BuyBoard is available only to members.

Ordering products can be done one of two ways.

  1. Identify the product, vendor and price.  Issue a purchase order in the name of the vendor and fax or email your original purchase order to the BuyBoard.  BuyBoard staff will log your purchase order for bid compliance and audit purposes and electronically transmit a confirming purchase order to the vendor through the BuyBoard web site.  This process is completed within 90 minutes of the BuyBoard receiving your purchase order.
  2. Another option, if you choose, you can send the original purchase order to the vendor and send the BuyBoard a confirming copy.  Staff will log your purchase order in the BuyBoard system but will not transmit a confirming copy to the vendor.

Each user has a security role, defined by the entity that allows them to shop, create and edit a purchase requisition, approve requisitions, or create and transmit a purchase order to the vendor. Individuals can be assigned multiple roles or a single role, such as a shopper only.  Only those individuals with the authority to release a purchase order to a vendor will have the ability to do so.  Purchase orders are electronically transmitted to the vendor.  All purchase order and requisition history is tracked by BuyBoard and accessible at any time to the users through the web site.

How does the request for quote (RFQ) option work?

An automated request for quote (RFQ) function allows members who buy in volume to create a request for a selected item(s) and select the vendors from whom they want to solicit a price quote. When the RFQ closes and vendors have responded, the system automatically tabulates the results. A simple click of the award button puts the items into the user’s shopping basket for the creation of a requisition and purchase order. For any large-volume purchases, the RFQ process allows for additional price concessions from awarded Co-op vendors without members going through the formal competitive procurement process themselves.

How many individuals from our entity can have access to the Cooperative's BuyBoard?

You may choose to authorize as many as you wish. There is no limit for the number each entity can authorize. Remember, most employees are considered shoppers, only allowing them to fill their shopping baskets. All employees can be issued passwords to search and shop for products without any compromise to the purchasing process.

What type of technical support is available?

A toll-free customer support number 800 695-2919 is available from BuyBoard. Technical support representatives can answer questions regarding the operation of the system. There are “How To” videos available to walk you through some of the common processes, A Quick Reference Guide is available to walk you through the all aspects of the BuyBoard program.  A desktop reference guide is also available that provides a quick summary of basic BuyBoard tasks.  Visit the NSBA/BuyBoard website for more information about these resources. 

Do we commit our entity to ordering only from the BuyBoard by joining the Cooperative?

A variety of products are available at discounts from manufacturers' prices. Members can elect to do all their purchasing from these discounted catalogs or only purchase selected items.

The Cooperative’s intent is to extend the options available to local governments and other political subdivisions. After becoming a member, you choose how to participate, product category by product category, item by item.

What happens if we have a problem with a supplier?

If the BuyBoard member cannot resolve the problem directly with the vendor, the BuyBoard staff is available to intervene. Ultimately the issue will need to be resolved by the member and the vendor.

What about my current vendors?

We highly encourage their participation. In fact, by participating, your vendors will have greater business opportunities with a wider variety of local governments. We also would encourage your vendors to register with the Cooperative  to receive notice of future proposal announcements.

How do we know we will save money by buying through BuyBoard?

The overall objective of BuyBoard is to provide a mechanism for all eligible local governments and school districts to pool their collective purchasing power.  Cooperatives save money.  A survey conducted by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing found that 86 percent of cooperative members save at least 10 percent on their cooperative purchases. Of course, there are no guaranteed savings, but cooperative buying power is a time-tested method of savings.

Governance and Administration:

The Cooperative is governed by an 8-member Board of Directors composed of staff from the districts which formed the cooperative and representatives appointed by each of the four School Boards Associations which collaborated to enable the cooperative to be created.    

BuyBoard is administered by staff at the National School Boards Association and at the Texas Association of School Boards under the terms of service agreements with the Cooperative Board of Directors.

How can I get additional information on BuyBoard?



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