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Coughlin, Schaer, Jasey & Benson Bill to Facilitate More Efficient Use of Taxpayer Dollars at NJ Colleges, Universities Now Law

A bill Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Gary S. Schaer, Mila Jasey and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to make the procurement process at New Jersey colleges and universities more efficient by permitting the institutions to participate in cooperative purchasing agreements is now law.

“Cooperative pricing systems help government entities get the best possible value when seeking goods and services, which results in a smarter use of taxpayer dollars,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Allowing public institutions of higher education in New Jersey to cut costs by joining these purchasing systems is a viable avenue toward making operations at our colleges and universities more efficient.”

The new law (A-3405) will permit public colleges and universities to act as participating contract units in cooperative pricing systems, or purchasing systems in which a lead agency advertises for bids, awards a master contract to the vendor providing for its own needs and for prices to be extended to registered members, and notifies the members of the contract awarded. Registered members then contract directly with the vendor for their own needs, subject to the specifications in the master contract.

Previous law defined “contracting units” as counties, municipalities and certain boards, commissions, committees, authorities or agencies, giving those entities the ability to make purchases and contract for services via a nationally-recognized and accepted cooperative purchasing agreement. The new law authorizes any state college or university, public research university or county college to also be a participating contracting unit in such cooperating pricing systems.

“As we seek ways to make post-secondary education more affordable for more students, it is imperative to provide New Jersey institutions of higher learning with options that can reduce costs,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. “Colleges and universities in our state can relieve some of the economic pressures they face via cooperative purchasing agreements and ultimately pass those savings along to students.”

“By joining a purchasing cooperative, institutions of higher education can access cost savings that bring them closer to their budgetary goals,” said Jasey (D-Morris/Essex), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “Lowering costs in this manner can help cut overall expenditures at these institutions and thus reduce the overall cost of college.”

“Cooperative purchasing can help colleges and universities streamline their operations while also allowing for the more efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “That stands to benefit businesses, institutions of higher learning and working people all across New Jersey.”

The measure received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature before being signed into law by the governor.