Smart Shoppers Unite as County Hosts Procurement Conference

They’re not the people you’d expect. No, coupon clippers here. But all together, they spend more than $1 billion in our county.

They purchase for local governments and the like, and they came together at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa Thursday for the County’s first-ever Regional Procurement Conference.

The idea behind it? To share what works, what doesn’t and ways to get more value for the tax dollar.   

“Our job is to ensure procurements are competitively awarded, securing the high quality goods and services necessary to support County departments,” said County Purchasing and Contracting Director Jack Pellegrino. “That means getting the right supplies and services to County departments, at the right time, and at the right price.” 

The County of San Diego is the second most populous county in California, the fifth in the country. Last fiscal year, the County spent $1.2 billion buying the goods and services employees need to provide services to residents.

The County deals with 1,875 suppliers and they provide services ranging from construction to IT, utilities to vehicles. Other public agencies often need to provide the same goods and services to their residents while trying to get the biggest bang for the tax dollar.  Why not work together?

The conference allowed participants to put names to faces, become better informed and see if there are ways to collaborate that are mutually beneficial. Examples? Combining buying power to obtain volume discounts or allowing others to piggy-back on existing contracts rather than starting the contracting process from scratch.

“Our number one job is to maximize every tax dollar and achieve cost savings,” said City of San Diego Purchasing and Contracting Director Dennis Gakunga.

The City of San Diego already works with the County in obtaining vehicles, paint, batteries, lighting and more. Currently, the two are jointly working on a contract for transitional housing.

The partnerships are also a boon to vendors. Rather than trying to win bids from several entities to provide the same service, it is more efficient to write up one proposal for a bigger procurement.     

The conference brought together procurement leaders from the County of San Diego, the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Poway, Santee and La Mesa, SANDAG, plus San Diego Unified School District among a number of school districts, community colleges, water districts, the Regional Airport Authority and more.


Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact