Case Study

Frederick County Public Schools Propels Major Public Initiatives by Tripling Supplier Base

Almost 70 schools, 50,000 students, and 5,300 full-time employees make up Frederick County Public Schools, one of Northern Maryland’s premiere districts. The School takes pride in its academic achievement and outpaces state and national peers in SAT scores. Behind these impressive statistics are School staff who supply students with top-notch curriculum, policy, and talent. 

Using ARPA funds, the School’s board of education recently approved a $145,000 contract with a Boston firm to audit the Special Education Program.

“This is an area of utmost importance to the community,” said the School’s Purchasing Manager, Bill Meekins, “The hiring of this firm was very public, and the consultant will interact with both the public and School staff.” 

Frederick County Public Schools partnered with OpenGov Procurement to increase evaluation efficiency and diversify its supplier base for these major purchasing decisions. In the first few years, the School tripled its consultant supplier base to bring in top-of-the-line vendors across the country. 

“With OpenGov Procurement, it’s nice to be able to reach those long-distance vendors. Before, we would get 2-3 vendors on average from the Delmarva area, now we can reach 8-9 vendors from states like Michigan, Indiana, and across the country.”

Bill Meekins, Purchasing Manager, Frederick County Public Schools

 

Customer Results

300% Increase in Vendor Responses to Consulting Projects

Broader Reach of Vendors to Include Top Talent from Across the Country

100% of Deadlines Met Thanks to More Efficient Evaluation Tools

Easily Issue Feedback to Vendors with Unified Scoring and Comments

To Meekins, Frederick County Public Schools was stuck in its paper-based ways for far too long: “I’m happy that we finally got to where we should’ve been 10 years ago.” 

Advertising to vendors was one of the most difficult aspects of the bid cycle, as the School was limited to the reach of the local newspaper and the State’s procurement site. Collecting bids was also a significant pain point, as responses were submitted via mail or delivered by hand. 

“I remember days where we had a bid opening, and 15 vendors would sit outside my office so they could finalize pricing down to the minute because they had to turn it in by hand,” said Meekins. “Back then, it was so much crazier. That’s why we had to move to an online system.”

The evaluation process was also a struggle and often finished at the last minute. Scoring was manual and Meekins kept track of evaluators via email. “Inevitably, somebody is usually behind, and I’m the one who has to poke the bear.”

Easier Awards & Evaluation For All Involved 

“[OpenGov’s] evaluation process is much nicer, and I know that my stakeholders appreciate the fact that it is all online now,” said Meekins. 

The digitized format helps the School meet deadlines proactively: “One week in, I can check each evaluator’s status and poke them right away. I used to have until the deadline. It’s much easier having that pre-look into where we are at.” 

Specific tools like color-coded scoring sheets and customizable rubrics eliminate the tedious clerical work of Meekins’s past. “Now it does all the work for me, even the math,” said Meekins. 

One of Meekins’s other favorite features is the comment section within the evaluation tool, allowing for seamless feedback to vendors. On average, Meekins hosts up to three debrief calls per contract. “Having the notes right there in front of me allows me to do the debrief call without necessarily having to reach back out to the evaluators.”

“We have all of the evaluation team working in the same digitized doc, which is so much easier to provide to the board when we send it for the recommendation. I have all of the information at my fingertips and in one area.” 

Bill Meekins, Purchasing Manager, Frederick County Public Schools

More Ways to be Proactive with Contract Management

In 2022, Meekins added the contracts module to its OpenGov Procurement package. The School uses the tool for non-bid-related contracts, as it is not part of its process to use secondary contract documents outside of the RFx. This tool has helped Meekins build-out contracts using automated templates and terms and conditions, keep track of deadlines with automated scheduling, and engage stakeholders with automated notifications. 

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