Cooperative Purchasing Programs | NIGP
“joint solicitation” and “piggybacking”

Cooperative Procurement and Cooperative Purchasing Programs

The federal Cooperative Purchasing Program allows eligible entities to use available funds to purchase from pre-approved industry partners across jurisdictions. This program enables local, tribal, and state governments, along with public educational institutions, to purchase products for security, law enforcement, and IT through cooperative purchasing agreements. These purchases must be made through Schedule contracts.

Cooperative procurement can be beneficial for buyers, who may benefit from lower prices, lower administrative costs, and more favorable terms and conditions. Suppliers can also benefit from cooperative purchasing agreements.

At its most fundamental level, cooperative practice takes two forms: “joint solicitation” and “piggybacking.”

Joint Solicitation

Joint solicitation happens when two or more agencies aggregate their individual product and service needs into a single solicitation effort. Each agency is bound to the contract that results from the singular effort.

Joint solicitation is a forward-looking, collaborative approach to cooperative practice that can provide clearly defined requirements. It gives prospective suppliers a clear understanding of the volume and service level requirements necessary to support the committed agencies. In general, joint solicitations occur with a relatively small number of agencies putting forward a greater – though shared – level of effort early in the procurement process to improve their negotiating position.


Piggybacking happens when an agency uses another agency's contract, even though it was not a party to the original solicitation and contract award. Agencies that piggyback on another agency’s contract are bound by the terms, conditions, and pricing set in the contract.

In contrast to a contract established through a joint solicitation process, a contract that allows for piggybacking does not inform the awarded supplier(s) of what the actual purchasing volume will be over the life of the contract. As a result, suppliers may not be in a position to offer the most aggressive pricing. Thus, the piggyback approach to cooperative procurement is a more retrospective approach to cooperative procurement than joint solicitation because suppliers can only improve their pricing and terms after the contract has been utilized multiple times.

The principle of piggybacking is fundamental to the growth in number of cooperative programs and the use of the contracts they promote.

REFERENCE: NIGP Global Best Practices - Use of Cooperative Contracts for Public Procurement

Cooperative Purchasing Programs

We offer the following list of cooperative purchasing programs in the U.S. and Canada for the convenience of the practitioner community. Program inclusion is provided at no charge and DOES NOT indicate endorsement by NIGP.