U.S. Communities Awarded its Office Products Contract to Amazon
Friday, January 13, 2017
We wanted to send out this briefing to make you aware of a couple recent contract awards for office supplies, which should have every independent dealer, buying group, wholesaler, and frankly tax-payer very concerned.
The way the U.S. Communities bid was written proves yet again how the system continues to be rigged against open and fair competition. In order to bid on the U.S. Communities contract,
A bidder had to bid on all nine categories, which included:
1. Office Supplies
2. Classroom, School, Art Supplies and Materials
3. Home Kitchen, Food and Grocery
5. Musical Instruments
6. Audio Visual and Electronics
7. Higher Education Scientific Equipment and Lab Supplies
9. Animal Supplies, Equipment and Food
These requirements made it impossible for anyone other than Amazon to bid on this contract and based on the history we’ve seen in cases like this, it was intentional. The second major contract award was in Prince Williams County, Virginia. In this case the PWC school district has signaled it is set to announce next week that they will be awarding their office supplies contract to Amazon as well.
The federal government, states, localities, even school districts talk about how important small businesses are to their communities, but every time they have a chance to support small businesses they seem go with large companies not in the office supplies space or communities. Instead of investing it in local small businesses who have invested in these very same communities and the kids it supports, PWC has now taken that money out of state and out of their own community. If Prince William County follows through on its plans, it will be signaling too small businesses that the PWC is not open to doing business with them.
The PWC contract award means every penny they spend on school supplies for our kids, will immediately go out of state, thus losing local tax revenue, possibly forcing job cuts, and loss of reinvestment back into the community by local businesses. Instead, this money all goes out of state with no real long-term benefits to PWC.
Virginia counties and schools have struggled with school budgets and have done everything they can to keep costs down without having to make cuts to athletics, music, theatre, and other after school clubs. This type of award say’s to students, parents, small businesses committed to the local community and schools, as well as all tax-payers, we don’t mind raising your taxes and having you pay more. This award is a slap in the face of every small business who has spent years working in this very community making sure our kids have all the resources they
need to be successful. How does the school board pay these small businesses back? They take the money they spend on office products and invest it outside the state.
Virginia is just the start. Look for awards like this to happen in other states. A more likely scenario is other school districts and communities across the country will follow the lead of PWC and simply piggyback off their contract with Amazon through the U.S. Communities portal.
NOPA is not standing by. We are working with independents in Virginia to find a solution that keeps this contract home. We are going to work with our independent dealers to find a way to keep the investment in our schools local. Time to honor the commitment to buy local!