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User-Friendly Tools Added to New ‘Partnership for Competitive Purchasing’ Website

The Ohio Attorney General’s Partnership for Competitive Purchasing is undergoing big changes.  The modifications are designed to help us better help you – Ohio’s public purchasers – with bid-rigging detection and prevention.

The Partnership was rolled out in 2005 as a free, voluntary program in which Antitrust Section staff trained in bid-rigging detection selected one registered entity twice a year for an on-site review of bid records for pre-selected products or services. Any evidence uncovered during the review that vendors may have colluded was considered for further investigation and possible recovery of funds for the affected public entity.

Over the years, we have heard that many public purchasers declined to sign up for the program out of concerns that a review might create further strain on their already-scarce staff resources, or that registering might send the wrong message to their constituents. Hearing these concerns, we set to work re-tooling the program to address these issues while continuing to pursue the essential goal of protecting public dollars.

So, what does the Partnership look like today? If you visit the Partnership page of the Ohio Attorney General’s website, you’ll see that the registration and on-site review components of the program are gone – replaced by a simple, user-friendly portal through which public officials or procurement professionals can report observations of unusual and/or concerning occurrences from their purchasing processes. From a simple price spike to the last-minute withdrawal of a bid under suspicious circumstances, every report is valuable. While one observation submitted by a single purchaser might seem unimportant, an influx of multiple similar observations from numerous purchasers in a given area can reveal the existence of a vendor scheme that otherwise would have gone undetected.

Reporting an observation takes just seconds on the new Partnership portal. A series of dropdown menus allow the purchaser to report key information with only a few clicks. Documents can be easily uploaded and submitted as well. And for those who wish to report the information anonymously, the new Partnership portal will accommodate that request.  (But if you do report anonymously, please provide as much detail as possible since our investigators will be unable to follow up with you.)

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office believes that facilitating a strong and active partnership with the cities, counties, townships, agencies, and other public purchasers of Ohio is a vital component of his mission to root out and remedy the anticompetitive vendor behavior that all-too-frequently victimizes state and local governments. 

So spend a moment on the Partnership page of the AGO website and take a look at the types of observations we hope you’ll submit as they occur in the future. A few seconds of your time can help us immeasurably as we work to ensure that the competitive process works for all Ohioans.