Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is TIPS?
TIPS is an acronym for The Interlocal Purchasing System. TIPS is a national purchasing cooperative that offers access to competitively procured purchasing contracts to its membership. TIPS is housed at and managed by the Region 8 Education Service Center located in Pittsburg, Texas.
2. How does my organization benefit from using a purchasing cooperative like TIPS?
For governmental agencies such as public education organizations, higher education entities, and city or county governments, membership in a purchasing cooperative offers the following benefits:
· Access to competitively procured contracts with quality vendors
· Savings of time and financial resources necessary to fulfill bid requirements
· Assistance with purchasing process by qualified TIPS staff
· Access to pricing based on a “national” high-profile contract
3. How are TIPS contracts awarded?
The general process to award a TIPS contract to a vendor is as follows:
· TIPS posts an RFP/RFQ for a specific product/service with a deadline date and time for submission of responses
· TIPS advertises the posting of the RFP/RFQ in a manner that meets the state of Texas requirements as well as in additional formats established by TIPS as beneficial to TIPS members including a national advertisement in USA Today.
· TIPS collects all incoming proposals until the deadline for submission
· TIPS staff open and record all of the proposals submitted prior to the advertised deadline
· A scoring committee reviews all proposals and scores the proposals based on the criteria established by TIPS (scoring rubric is included in the posted RFP/RFQ documents
· A vendor receiving a score of at least 80 on the scoring rubric is then recommended to the Region 8 ESC Board of Directors at the monthly meeting to receive a TIPS contract to sell the specified product/service.
· The ESC Board of Directors votes to award contracts following the recommendation and discussion of proposed contracts.
4. Where are TIPS solicitations advertised?
TIPS solicitations (RFP’s/RFQ’s) are advertised for 2 consecutive weeks in the Pittsburg Gazette in Pittsburg, Texas as well as on a national scope in the USA Today. For solicitations advertised after July 1, 2014, postings are also advertised in The Advocate published in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
5. Who can be a member of TIPS?
The Interlocal Purchasing System currently serves entities such as state and local governments and non-profit organizations, including but not limited to:
· K-12 school districts
· Charter Schools
· Private Schools/Daycare Centers
· Colleges and Universities (State and Private)
· Charitable Organizations
· State Agencies
· Emergency Services Districts
· Other entities with legislated purchasing/bidding requirements
6. How much does it cost to be a member of TIPS?
Membership in The Interlocal Purchasing System is free.
7. How does my organization become a member of TIPS?
The TIPS website offers step-by-step instructions on how to become a member. The process is fast, and it’s free. It is, however, specific to your home state. Please click on this link to access the membership instructions and documents: https://www.tips-usa.com/membership.cfm
8. How can my business become an awarded vendor to sell products or services through TIPS?
The only way a vendor can sell products or services through the TIPS cooperative is to be awarded a contract by TIPS. This can only happen when a vendor responds to a TIPS solicitation (RFP/RFQ) for their specific product or service and meets the scoring requirements to receive an awarded contract from the Region 8 ESC Board of Directors (which serves as the governing board of TIPS). For further information, please see question #4 of this FAQ or visit the following link: https://www.tips-usa.com/becomebidder.cfm
9. I am not from Texas. Does the TIPS purchasing process meet the purchasing requirements of my state?
TIPS staff work closely with TIPS legal counsel to verify that a state's purchasing law allows for the operation of purchasing cooperatives within the state through either direct or piggyback agreements. This legal authority is accessible by state on the TIPS website. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the purchasing member to ensure that all aspects of a specific purchase meet individual state purchasing laws, rules, and regulations.