By Tammy Murga Signal Staff Writer The city of Santa Clarita has been recognized with a prestigious award for its purchasing policies and practices, marking the fifth consecutive year the city has received the achievement. In its 23rd annual awarding, the National Procurement Institute recognized the city with the Achievement of Excellence in Procurement. The AEP Award is bestowed upon public and nonprofit organizations, including schools and cities, that obtain a high application score based on standardized criteria. According to the NPI website, the criteria measure innovation, professionalism, productivity, online procurement and leadership attributes of the procurement organization. One of the ways the city proved to meet criteria was in its all-electronic use for bids, quotes and online surplus auctions. Joe Oerum, city clerk and contract service manager, said this strategy, “saves a lot of time for both staff and contractors. Now they don’t have to go to city hall, but can watch from online and even submit questions.” Several other areas were also accredited, including the city’s vendor outreach program, which invites local companies to understand better how to do successful business with the city. The employee procurement card program and professional development training workshops were also recognized. NPI has been awarding organizations like Santa Clarita since 1995 in the United States and Canada. Since then, California has received the second most awards (47), following Texas. According to a news release Tuesday, Santa Clarita, recognized a total of eight times, is one of 65 cities to earn the award in 2018. The AEP award has the “distinction of being sponsored by every major procurement association in the nation and recognizes state-of-the-art best practices in public procurement,” the city’s news release added. Oerum said the city is always looking to improve and is on standby to learn more about next year’s AEP criteria.