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A preliminary meeting of the Commission was held May 2, 1917, at which resolutions were adopted that each State department be requested to present its present form of practice and procedure in the making of purchases.
At a following meeting held June 3d, the representatives of the various departments presented their reports, which were filed with the Comptroller. Committees were created to work out details and suggest plans of procedure for the study of all existing methods of purchasing in the State. The members of one of these committees familiarized themselves with the present purchasing methods, the laws upon the subject, and investigated the centralized purchasing systems of the Federal government at Washington, of the city of New York and of other State governments: Subcommittees were delegated to examine the laws and practices relating to the present purchasing system of the state hospitals, charitable institutions, prisons and trustees of public buildings and to study and examine the forms of contracts now used and specifications and standard tests of supplies. Another committee was delegated to study the methods now prevailing in making of purchases for the various State departments, boards and commissions, which included also examination of numerous reports and vouchers on file in the Comptroller's office with the assistance of clerks of this department assigned for the purpose.
Of the systems and data examined, the Commission reports as its opinion that the system now in use by the Federal government in the city of Washington, with the necessary modifications, is the best one upon which to found an act for creating a centralized purchasing system for this State. It is confidently believed that such a system will raise the standards of quality of supplies, eliminate many grades and varieties, extend the field and increase the number of bids for furnishing supplies; eliminate much duplication of labor in the preparation of schedules and contracts; secure
better and more favorable deliveries and generally result in considerable saving of cost. One of the immediate and most beneficial results would be the consolidation of the purchasing agencies of all the State departments, boards and commissions with the present more or less centralized purchasing agencies of the various groups of the State institutions, such as the hospitals, charities and prisons.
It is not believed that it will be wise to attempt such consolidation immediately but to enact a law which would enable such consolidation, say on July 1, 1919. This would afford time for the Commission to continue its research and for a satisfactory organization. During such time another session of the Legislature would be held at which the law could be amended if it should be found desirable to do so.
The Commission is fully convinced of the advantages and practicability of a centralized purchasing system and has in preparation a bill for its creation which it expects to submit to the Legislature for its consideration not later than March 1, 1918.
The plan which will be recommended by the Commission will not contemplate the erection of a new department, the creation of any new salaried positions, nor any radical disturbance of existing purchasing agencies. Its object will be the consolidation of such agencies in order to gain the benefits of their experience and activities in a more concentrated or collective form by combining purchases where this can be done to advantage.
Some extracts of various systems and data examined are appended to this report.
THE FEDERAL SYSTEM AT WASHINGTON
By section 4 of the act of June 17, 1910 (36 Stat. 531) it was provided :
“ That hereafter all supplies of fuel, ice, stationery and other miscellaneous supplies for the Executive Departments and other Government Establishments at Washington, when the public exigencies do not require the immediate delivery of the article, shall be advertised and contracted for by the Secretary of the Treasury, instead of by the several departments and establish
“ There shall be a General Supply committee in lieu of the board . . . composed of officers, one from each department, designated by the head thereof, the duties of which committee shall be to make, under the direction of the said Secretary an annual schedule of required, miscellaneous supplies, to standardize such supplies, eliminating all unnecessary grades and varieties .
In pursuance of this section, the General Supply Committee prescribed suitable regulations and prepared the “General Schedule of Supplies” in bound form, comprising nearly twenty thousand different items.
It is stated as not being the intention of the Secretary of the Treasury in including in the schedule and in contracting for articles used in scientific, laboratory or research work, to inhibit the purchase of articles of a different grade or manufacture when the articles included are not suitable for the required purpose.
EXPERIENCE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
The "Mayor's Central Purchasing Committee," organized November, 1914, inaugurated a new consolidated contract procedure for the city and has already consolidated practically all the contract purchasing of the twenty-eight departments and offices under the direct supervision of the mayor.
Among the advantages said to be derived by the city from co-operative purchasing are: The cost of supplies has been decreased; competition has been widened by the addition of many new bidders and the use of a consolidated mailing list; additional standards have been established for supplies ... thereby reducing the cost of beef, mutton, ham, coffee, etc., and removing the uncertainty of the meaning of proposals; marked reduction in the cost of labor of preparing proposals and contracts; the committee has functioned as a bureau of information and complaints; the establishment of a central sample room; the reduction of work of other central agencies of the city government.
Numerous concrete instances are given of saving in cost, increase in number of bids, etc., on a basis of parallel conditions in the years of 1914 and 1915 prior to the general demoralization of prices and delivery factors following involution of the country in the present world's war.
In the table of comparative prices of 1914 with 1915 a few conspicuous items are selected: Nut anthracite coal, $6.571$6.544; bituminous coal (run of mine), $3.536-$3.136; canned tomatoes, $2.68–$2.12; gasoline, $0.1419–$0.0995; hams, smoked, $0.1617-$0.1484; milk, $0.05829--$0.05315; rice, $0.0524– $0.0493; rubber coats, $2.507–$1.90; the prices being for standard units of the commodities.
There is of course some advantage in New York city on account of concentration of delivery and terminal facilities for shipment and distribution which would not obtain in the wider range of the entire State.
THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
The State of California enacted in 1915 a very broad bill creating a State purchasing department. This bill created the office of State purchasing agent who is made the purchasing agent of and for each and every State department, commission, board, institution or official. After a few months of study of methods and forms, necessary for the operation of the department, it took over the purchasing for the State offices and commissions, sixtyfive departments in all. The department has been organized into seven divisions according to commodities with expert chiefs in charge of the various divisions. Supplies have been largely standardized on which collective bids are invited. Purchases are classed