The National Association of State Procurement Officials announced Thursday that NASPO ValuePoint, the association’s cooperative purchasing platform for state- and local-government contracts, is going to test a new partnership with Procurated, a company that bills itself as a “Yelp for government,” by letting procurement officers rate and review vendors.
State procurement officials and chief information officers, who increasingly consider themselves “brokers” of services, use NASPO ValuePoint to establish single-solicitation contracts with vendors, with the goal of reducing costs and administrative burdens. Those savings can then be passed on to other parts of the public sector, including local governments and higher-education institutions.
With the Procurated pilot project, ValuePoint will be able to collect reviews of vendors in four categories: facilities maintenance and repair, managed printing services and copiers, public safety communications and ground maintenance equipment.
The reviews are all written by verified procurement officials, said the company’s founder and chief executive, David Yarkin.
“When we talked with NASPO, they understood the platform has real-time visibility for how providers are performing on contracts,” said Yarkin, himself a former chief procurement officer in Pennsylvania. “Government procurement professionals are the linchpins ensuring citizens get from the government what they deserve.”
Yarkin said he founded the company out of longstanding frustration: It was tough to learn about government contractors’ past performances outside of references provided by those companies during the bidding process, which he said are “cherry-picked.”
“In the meantime, great tools showed up for consumers like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List,” he said. “Why couldn’t we create a Yelp for government?”
While the consumer-review websites he listed don’t require users to list their credentials — anyone can leave a nasty Yelp rating for a restaurant without ever having dined there — Yarkin said his company takes steps to ensure its reviews are sourced from procurement officials. Since Procurated’s 2019 founding, its users have left about 44,000 comments. That’s enough volume, he said, to give other procurement officers a more thorough review of their potential vendors.
Although NASPO ValuePoint will only be using Procurated’s reviews across four categories during the pilot period, it could scale up. Procurement officers in Massachusetts, one of Yarkin’s customers, started with rating vendors for office supplies and building maintenance, but now apply it to 50 contracts.
“The intention was to become an indispensable tool for every procurement official in every state, every county,” he said. “The stakes are so high in procurement now. The decisions they make affect so many people.”