Tag Archives: Valley Schools Management Group


19 Nov

In Arizona an organization is making great strides in re-educating government procurement entities on their options for group purchasing insurance.  In many government settings, standard procurement processes are often used exclusively, without giving proper consideration to other options legally available.  Sometimes these other options can yield great savings and better services and products as well.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation put together recently by Bill Munch of the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) on how group purchasing options should be considered in addition to standard single-entity procurement:

Options in Insurance Buying FINAL 09132012

The Power Point is pretty self-explanatory, but for more information, please feel free to contact Bill Munch, Andrea Billings, or Sheri Gilbert at 623-594-4370.

Bill Munch

Valley Schools Holds 5th Annual Conference

26 Oct

Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) is a group purchasing cooperative organization that saves its members millions per year in insurance, workers’ compensation and employee benefits costs.  It was created in 1987 and has expanded into all three areas over time.  This is the fifth consecutive year that the VSMG, run by Tom Boone, has held an annual conference to inform its members on the latest in insurance, workers’ compensation and employee benefits laws, regulations and opportunities for savings.  VSMG is truly a model for transparency and keeping their membership informed and up to date on all issues.

This year, Andrea Billings, Administrator for the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) was one of the speakers, discussing the latest in health care and other benefits for tens of thousands of members in the VSEBT.

Rebecca McGonigle of VSEBT, Dr. Steven Masley, and Andrea Billings of VSEBT

In the past, the conference has featured guest speakers including Congressman John Shadegg, Dr. Andrew Weil the wellness guru, and Dr. Nick Yphantides, author of My Big Fat Greek Diet.  This year the featured speaker was Dr. Steven Masley, author of Ten Years Younger.


Have you wondered, How Old Are You, Really?  You know what’s written on your birth certificate, but as you’re aware your chronological age may not match your biological age.  you are invited to hear a presentation by Steven Masley, M.D., a physician whose work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, the Today Show, and over 200 media interviews. His program, Ten Years Younger is scientifically proven to work, with results published in multiple peer reviewed medical journals.

The Ten Years Younger Program is designed to combat the roots of accelerated aging. Poor nutrition, toxins in the environment, stress, and exposure to free radicals all make us old before our time, along with a little-known aging culprit: low- and no-carb diets.

“Dr. Masley shows us how we can take control of the aging process. Follow this simple ten-week plan, and you’ll find yourself getting younger, day by day.”
– Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Steven Masley, M.D. is a board and fellow certified family physician and nutritionist, author, speaker, and award-winning patient educator. His research focuses on the impact of lifestyle choices on aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cognitive function, menopause, and weight control. His passion is empowering people to achieve optimal health through comprehensive medical assessments and lifestyle changes.

Senior staff from the Paradise Valley Unified School District study the presentations.

Attendees went through a grueling time of back-to-back presentations, but once again very much appreciated the in depth information.  More organizations need to bring in their senior clients and membership to keep them informed and inspired like the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) does regularly.

Left to right, Tom Boone, Tim O’Brien, Skip Brown, Jim Migliorino and Ted Carpenter

Tom Boone, Chairman and CEO of VSMG, Opens up the Conference



Arizona NIGP Adopts Cooperative Contract Criteria

22 Oct

Arizona NIGP Adopts Cooperative Contract Criteria

They have now received national recognition for this new way of evaluating cooperative purchasing in government settings.

reposted from:

National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP)


New Form Justifies Use of Cooperative Contract

The Arizona Capitol Chapter of NIGP recently adopted a new form to help school districts, cities, towns, counties and other municipalities justify the use of a particular cooperative contract. The Justification for Utilizing a Cooperative Contract was reviewed by the Cooperative Committee of the Arizona Capitol Chapter of NIGP with the input from a host of public procurement professionals across the State. The intent is that the document be used as a template starting point and edited as appropriate by the agency. This form can supplement due diligence documentation to further document the reasons for using a cooperative contract versus going out to bid independently.

The following questions and issues are addressed in the template document:

  1. Is there a Cooperative Purchase Agreement allowing use of the contract?
  2. Was the procurement done by a Public Procurement Unit?
  3. Do the terms, conditions and scope of work/specifications meet the need?
  4. If no, are the terms, conditions and scope of work/specifications negotiable?
  5. Does the cooperative contract provide the most advantageous solution? Why?
  6. Is the contract in effect and in force for all proposed purchases?
  7. Will any and all purchases comply with the terms and prices in the contract?
  8. Will volume pricing advantages be applied to purchases?
  9. Are there any fees associated with use of the contract? Are they reasonable and justified?
  10. Were local and regional vendors offered the opportunity to compete for the contracts?
  11. Did the cooperative or lead agency have the expertise, reputation and history of quality contracting for the good or service being procured?
  12. Was past experience with the cooperative or lead agency acceptable?
  13. Is it a unique purchase that is better serviced under another contract?
  14. Is the item urgently needed?
  15. What is the age of the contract? How many years is it into its contract term?

For your reference, attached is the template form, “Justification for Utilizing a Cooperative Contract.”

For more information about the form and its creation, contact:

Michelle Hamilton is the Director of Purchasing for Mesa Public Schools, serves on the AASBO Executive Board and may be reached by email at mlhamilt@mpsaz.org.

Bill Munch is the Executive Director of Procurement Compliance, Outreach and Education with Valley Schools Management Group and may be reached by email at bmunch@vsit.org.

Left to Right – Matt Donaghue, Brenda Carlson, of First Investors, Bill Munch of the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) and Dennis Snoozy with First Investors.

Special thanks to the Arizona Capitol Chapter of NIGP for sharing this resource with all NIGP members!

Source: Strategic Sourceror, Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Public Procurement – Not So Easy – Rarely Cheap

28 Sep

I have worked for many years in various capacities both in the federal, state and local governments as well as in the private sector.  Now retired, I can reflect on my procurement experiences with some degree of latitude not offered while one is still employed and must be careful what they say.  Both the private sector and the public sector want the same things with a procurement – high quality services, timeliness and low costs.  However, the approaches vary widely.

In the private sector as a CEO or CFO I would often seek out an industry leader, many times one I had worked with in the past.  Instead of spending time looking around, I would go to someone I knew would do the job right and with whom I had a relationship.  If I could get a good price I would stop looking.  If their price seemed high, I would ask around.  Often, I would end back up in the first place, having found their price was not so high after all.  Jumping vendors once in awhile kept your friends “honest” on their prices.  They want to make a profit just like you, but if you allow them to be complacent, or don’t occasionally look around, the quality and timeliness can drop and the price can go higher.  You don’t want to be taken for granted, especially if you are a small client for them.

On the other hand, constantly jumping around establishes no relationships, and if it ain’t broken why fix it.  Lasting vendor relationships over ten to twenty years can build real trust and respect.  Resolving complex issues becomes a single phone call and a handshake.  Each party trusts the other to do right by them.  In the private sector this leads to a lot of doing business with people you know, or with those your friends know.  It is harder to “break-in” to an established industry unless price is the only driver.  In the public sector, this way of doing business is not only not accepted, but sometimes a crime.

The public sector often assumes that all procurement bodies are corrupt and can be bribed by a meal at a nice restaurant or a sporting event.  At my consulting firm, I spent over $10,000 per year on meals and entertainment with clients.  It was how you got to know each other.  It was considered “bad form” to bring up anything business related.  It was about establishing relationships and trust, not about sales.  In the public sector, that same behavior is viewed as trying to influence future contracts.

Starting with that premise, procurement laws are set up to provide statutes and rules that eliminate the ability of anyone to be corrupt.  This is of course impossible.  People cannot accept gifts, they cannot discuss contract needs unless every submits questions and everyone gets the same answers, they have to do formal bid processes, set up panels, involve people who are impartial (which often means they know nothing of the project).  Staying with the same vendor is often viewed as corruption.  “This vendor has won every bid for ten years in a row!”  Is viewed as some sort of empirical proof that there is corruption, not that the firm could be the best and lowest priced.

The procurement code can even pre-set criteria such as cost, quality, and other measures in formats that don’t fit well with the project.  A colleague in private sector big constructions, stadiums, civic centers, etc. told me that their company would lose money on every bid.  They make all their profits off change orders and overrides because the procurement folks did not anticipate issues.  So, they go for low price, then get a 50% overrun to do the job right.  They told me it was industry practice.

When I was CFO for a major state agency, we had a line item appropriation for $1.9 million.  No matter who bid, they bid within $100,000 of that amount.  Why?  That is the amount we had.  I could have bid for them to write one letter for me, or to work for an entire year with five people – $1.9 million would be the bid.  I am not suggesting that nepotism, fraud, corruption or other bad behavior be tolerated, quite the opposite.  I am just pointing out that the very laws intended to get good pricing often lead to substandard services and higher pricing.

What to Do?  First, if you are in any sector, think about the types of procurement available to you – project management bid, single source, emergency bid, multiple RFP, RFI, what tools will work best for your project.  Then, bring in an expert with a history of skill in both following ALL the laws, AND with getting good vendors and pricing.  These are rare individuals indeed.

Arizona Rural Schools Association Conference that Bill Munch provided training. From the left, Bill Munch, Superintendent for Palo Verde, Robin Berry and Executive Director, Bill Blong.

An Example – Recently, the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) a group purchasing organization serving the public sector, hired Bill Munch to work on procurement issues.

Bill Munch graduated from Arizona State University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Purchasing and Materials Management.  He has received certification as a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB).  He was the first President of the Greater Phoenix Purchasing Consortium of Schools (GPPCS), a purchasing cooperative comprised of over fifty school districts in Arizona.  He has also served as Vice President and is currently Membership Officer of GPPCS.  He has dedicated his entire career to the topic of public procurement and has a flawless record.

Bill currently serves on the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) Board of Directors as Treasurer and is a certified Arizona Community College Instructor that regularly teaches the AASBO 4-Day Purchasing Classes and “Purchasing for Users”.  He is a member of the Capitol Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (AZNIGP), has served on various committees and regularly presents at their conferences.  Bill has always been an active procurement advocate for Arizona public procurement entities.

The amazing thing here, is that VSMG did not just hire Bill Munch to help their organization.  They hired him to help all of their member organizations as well – for free!  Talk about going the extra mile.  In addition, they are even offering his services to NON-members.  Already, Bill Munch has helped with training at Tolleson Union School District, Tuba City Unified School District, Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District, Wickenburg Unified School District and Scottsdale Unified School District.  Only two of those are VSMG members.

Over the next few months, Bill has another twelve seminars and trainings planned across Arizona.  When you see an organization that committed to helping others follow the procurement laws and save public funding, you just have to say Bravo!  Many of those districts do not have the resources for that level of assistance on their own, and VSMG is there to help.


Deer Valley Unified School District Saves Millions on Energy!

31 Aug

The Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) received a check this week for over $30,000 from Arizona Public Service (APS) for their utility management program.  With this check, savings for the district in rebates alone are millions of dollars since they started the program with the help of Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG).  The rebates are a partial reimbursement for DVUSD taking the initiative to install more energy efficient equipment after an extensive review of campuses.  Not only has their been millions in rebates, but the utility savings are also staggering.

Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent of Fiscal Services, Deer Valley Unified School District

Jim Migliorino, the Associate Superintendent for Fiscal Services at DVUSD has helped spearhead this effort to reduce costs.  Working closely with John Brunell and Tim O’Brien of VSMG, Jim has retro-fitted and replaced equipment in circumstances where the cost of the upgrade is more than offset with utility savings and APS rebates.  It is an uncommon event to see such dedication to saving money for a school district so that precious tax dollars can go into the classroom, not to pay for excess utility costs.

One of many checks earned by DVUSD from APS as a result of their efforts.

More to come in future posts on details as to how these significant savings were realized.

%d bloggers like this: