Deliberate price wars have proved cost-effective for Cobb County government.
The county’s system of competitive bids has consistently meant lower prices for products and services, according to Purchasing Director Joe Tommie. A recent study by the department determined Cobb County saved an average of $296,818 since January alone.
Any purchase of more than $2,000 requires at least three phone quotes, according to county policy. More than $10,000 requires three written quotes and projects that will cost more than $50,000 must be publicly advertised and recieved as sealed bids or proposals.
"The end result of it saves us a lot of money," Tommie said. "To me, this is the most impartial, fair way to do it."
Recently, the Purchasing Department began a formal study to determine how much money the bidding process saves Cobb County government.
For each project, they determined the average difference between the low bid and the high bid, Tommie said. This helps eliminate consideration of possibly inflated bids and provide a more accurate figure.
For instance, an April purchase of electronics had a low bid of $12,395 and a high bid of $27,212. Taking the difference and halving it, results in an average savings of $7,408. For one renovation project bid in March, the county saved an average of $28,011.
During February, bids for a construction services request ranged from $42,490 as the low amount and $47,983 for the top price. This meant an average cost savings of $2,746.
Some of the amounts were small, such as a $39 average cost savings for a computer software purchase in January, but the overall total adds up.
In March, the county saved an average of $1,049 in a bid for police items, $2,059 in a bid for building material and $3,480 through a bid for computer hardware peripherals and accessories.
"It’s clear that county government, and by extension, the taxpayers, benefit from this," Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee said.
"Some counties use price negotiations in an attempt to drive down costs. I think this is not as effective as a competitive bid process."
"By letting private enterprise and free market competition do what they do best, we all win," he said.
The process is kept in the public view as part of open government policies by Cobb County. TV23, the government access channel, broadcasts bid openings live at 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. The openings, which take place at 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta, can be viewed online at cobbcounty.org.