When a school district/municipal government purchases products and services, can it utilize national contracts or partner with another school district or town to get better pricing?  

New York does not allow or authorize the use of out-of-state or national cooperative contracts by school districts or local government as a purchasing alternative.

According to state law, local governments must engage in competitive bidding, when a contract amount exceeds a certain pre-established threshold.  In the alternative, local governments may utilize state contracts to purchase materials, equipment or supplies (other than printed materials) over $500 through the New York State Office of General Services (OGS).  The ability to use OGS contracts is based on the premise that the state has pre-authorized the vendors on the list as qualifying and as being a good bargain. 

New York State school districts may enter into cooperative purchasing agreements with each other, subject to the approval of the board of each school district and in accordance with the state laws relating to the competitive bidding process identified above.   Also, school districts may purchase materials, equipment or supplies or contracts for services (other than those specifically excepted by law), either through the county in which the district is located or an adjoining county (as long as the school district does not receive a lower bid from a vendor for the purchase on the same terms, conditions and specification).

[NOTE:  Transportation is a service that may be shared between school districts and/or BOCES through a joint agreement.  The Commissioner of Education was tasked in 2010 with conducting pilot programs to assist school districts in forming regional transportation systems but that report is not due to the legislature until November 2012.]