Back in 2012, when Jeff Rubenstein volunteered as an auxiliary law enforcement officer, he was helping purchase defibrillators for the police officers in his department. Shortly before finalizing the purchase, he discovered that the city’s fire department bought similar equipment from a different supplier for much lower price. “From a business perspective, if this is happening with a single organization, what must be happening in government agencies in general,” pondered Rubenstein. Today, almost 89,000 government agencies in the U.S. do not know what their neighboring agencies are buying—including the vendor details and pricing. “In many cases, the same products are sold to different agencies, with the same model number and part number but at wildly different prices, and the agencies are unaware of it.”
"We believe government transactions should be transparent for the good of our citizens and the health of the largest competitive marketplace in the world"
Combining his extensive expertise in government procurement as well as technology integration, Rubenstein designed a platform to help individual government agencies increase their procurement efficiency by sharing procurement data with other government agencies and the vendors that serve them. SmartProcure transparently collects purchasing information and puts it in a single database, so that these agencies have access at their fingertips anytime they need to know who sells the products/services they’re buying.
At times, it is difficult or time consuming for agencies to find and evaluate vendors, and as a result, some may stay with the same vendor even if another vendor may offer better service or pricing. Using SmartProcure’s platform, purchasers can log in and view the purchases of other government agencies that have used other potential vendors, and reach out to the agencies to discover their experiences. This way SmartProcure helps ensure agencies find quality vendors, while bringing down costs via pricing transparency for both agencies and vendors. “We have seen savings up to one percent of a city’s annual budget through our system, that gives agencies real purchasing data and helps them find the best available price any agency has paid, anywhere in the U.S.,” notes Rubenstein.
The company combines purchasing data from thousands of government bodies across the country and makes it available over the web without any need for agencies to change their eProcurement systems. The company’s searchable database of government procurement information is designed to boost transparency, giving agencies access to a whole range of past deals. “It is like Google search—by typing in an agency name, a part number or product name, users can find complete details of the purchase,” states Rubenstein. Shared access to information provides every government agency with better purchasing power and a more thorough and reliable way to source the best vendors at the best prices, and benchmark spending performance of their agencies.
To help government agencies make more informed and efficient purchasing decisions, SmartProcure’s database consists of millions of purchase orders across all 50 states, adding more than 1 million purchase orders per week. The company’s web-based tool, SmartSearch, allows federal agencies to quickly search for vendors of a particular product with details of the vendor’s previous customers available for a reference check. Not only can users find qualified vendors, but agencies can also view detailed pricing of what their neighboring agencies have paid. The tool is fortified with intelligence that allows users to locate purchase orders with different naming conventions. This is an enormous advantage to assist users in finding what they need accurately. The system also promotes quality of data as it is the replica of the data provided by government agencies. “We provide 100 percent authenticity to the extent that even if there is a misspelling, we do not change that,” explains Rubenstein. After a thorough search, agencies can choose vendors based on their pricing, references, and can request quotes from multiple vendors using SmartProcure’s tools.
An interesting case in point is Yelm School District, Washington, who was able to request pricing quotations for 812 Chromebooks through SmartProcure. Sourcing from the vendor in SmartProcure, “We saved over $43k in a single purchase of Chromebooks. This was about a 20 times ROI in the first month of utilizing SmartProcure,” explains Bonnie Gerber, Purchasing, Yelm School District.
From a security standpoint, SmartProcure helps federal agencies maintain purchasing compliance. “What’s more important in maintaining compliance than getting a fair price and buying from an appropriate seller? Assisting in compliance is one of our key goals,” asserts Rubenstein. And with a dedicated security department, SmartProcure is always up to date with latest safety standards.
Today, SmartProcure is set to build an open marketplace for government agencies and vendors while boosting transparency for the citizens. Concurrently, the company will roll out enhancements to its product set to address pain points involved in the procurement process. “We want to give access to people not only in the purchasing department but also those involved in purchase requisitions, to determine the best vendors with advanced compliance, ultimately boosting transparency.” To boost market visibility, “We will ensure that every business in the U.S. has the opportunity to conduct business with the government through our platform.” In the near term, the company is planning to expand its global footprint to neighboring jurisdictions like Canada.