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Should government be able to buy auction items?
Cotten its official1 original
Justin Cotten

Warren County government sells items to the public through an online auction. Should government be allowed to buy items at auction as well?

Members of the county Financial Management Committee have begun initial consideration for a resolution that would allow department heads to purchase items at auction. That measure would require approval by the Warren County Commission.

According to Finance Department director Justin Cotten, he was asked to look into that possibility as a cost-saving measure.

“The Sheriff’s Department had requested that I look into this,” said Cotten. “I had previously been asked to look into it by the Sanitation Department when the Highway Department was doing its local auction. The Sheriff’s Department says it could save a lot of money by purchasing items off GovDeals.” is an online place to bid on government items that have been declared surplus and unclaimed property including heavy equipment, cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, office equipment, etc. The auction is nationwide and anyone may bid, but only government entities may sell.  

At this time, department heads have two ways in which to purchase items and both are based on the amount of money being spent. Items under $10,000 can be purchased at the discretion of the department head using an informal process, while items over $10,000 must undergo a formal bidding process. 

Cotten says he contacted Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and the county can purchase items at auction, if it chooses to do so.

“I was sent a resolution from the Comptroller that we would need to use, if we want to allow it,” said Cotten. “I would recommend the committee set a purchase limit under $10,000.”

The resolution would allow purchases from any public auction and would not limit the department heads to Cotten would act as the purchasing agent, while department heads would initiate the request. 

No action was taken by Financial Management Committee members. The measure will be under consideration at a later date.