San Joaquin, CA Experiences Benefits of Web-Based Purchasing Software

Project Stats:
County: San Joaquin County, CA
Operating Budget: $1.2million
Software Provider: The Public Group
Benefits: reduced staff training cost, easier to manage surplus Estimated Paper Reduction: 30%
Estimated Efficiency Improvement: 25-40%

Contact: David Louis
Title: Director of Purchasing & Support Services
Email: dlouis@sjgov.org


San Joaquin County, CA historically used Oracle's People Soft program to manage the County's procurement activity. However, the complexity and cost (software cost and the cost of training employees) led the County to review alternatives.

San Joaquin County is now active uses several free purchasing software modules offered by The Public Group. The County has increased efficiency and reduced paper consumption.

Selecting a Software Provider

In San Joaquin County, the Purchasing Director has the authority to select and purchase a software program. Input from the County's elected Board is not necessary.

In 2010, Purchasing Director, David Louis reviewed several software options and presented options to his staff for testing and feedback. San Joaquin County ended up selecting Public Purchase. Later, the County added the Public Contract and Public Surplus modules from The Public Group.


Many finance and purchasing software options are not designed specifically for the requirements of the public purchasing process. However, the Public Purchase was designed specifically for government use. The Public Group, developers of the software, "spoke out language," said Louis.

The County initially used the software to publish bids and register vendors, which has proven very successful, according to Louis. Whereas, the County's Purchasing staff previously had to enter vendors into their Oracle software, now vendors throughout the country can register themselves to receive notifications of open bids for the products that they offer. "The new software has reduced our vendor registration work-load tremendously," said David Louis. In addition, the nation-wide customer base associated with Public Purchase has resulted in greater revenue return for San Joaquin County. Louis said that, although vendor sometimes need to talk through the registration process, he has rarely heard negative feedback. The vendors generally appreciate receiving critical bid information electronically. The County now also receives bids from vendors electronically, which saves time and effort.

San Joaquin County still uses an Oracle product for vendor payment, which requires some data entry if the transaction is performed through check or purchase order. (Credit card transactions are made easily online.)

The Public Contract modules enabled San Joaquin to move larger contracts into an electronic system. Less paper is required for staff to develop purchase order documents and reports can generated quickly.

Another benefit of Public Purchase and Public Contract is that both modules are available at no cost to government agencies and suppliers. "For that reason, it was very attractive to use," said Louis. "We're able to take advantage of several sub-systems at little or no cost, and the County is moving toward a full e-procurement system."

Surplus Program

After successfully using the Public Purchase and Public Contract modules, San Joaquin County tested Public Surplus, a surplus management product offered by.

The County wasn't previously selling items online, because of the cost and effort associated. But, the Public Surplus software was cost-effective and easy to use.

San Joaquin County now manages surplus more with greater regularity and revenue return. By having an electronic means of disposal, San Joaquin can reach a broader audience with their goods.

When an item is good condition but still useable by the County, it is first offered to County staff free of charge through an online auction. "We put items online just for our end-users to promote reducing, re-using, and recycling internally. This requires very little staff time. Our employee community can see what's available and submit a "bid" of zero dollars to indicate interest in the item," said Louis.

Then, if there are no requests from staff people, the auction is opened up to non-profit community-based organizations in the "Tier II Transaction." Community organizations that are registered at www.publicpurchase.com receive automatic notifications when the County posts items online.

If the item still is not sold, it is then available through a public auction, the "Tier III Transaction." Anyone can register for an online account through www.publicpurchase.com and place a bid for the item. Items that San Joaquin County has sold through public auction include office supplies, furniture, vehicles, boats, and helicopters.

At one point in time, San Joaquin County had a full-time employee dedicated to surplus management. Now, a part-time employee managing surplus with the Public Surplus software "does a better job at managing greater amounts of surplus than that full person did," Louis said.

"This allows us to repurpose more items than we did in the past and helps us keep items out of the landfill. It's great to see items repurposed and reused," said Louis.