Proposed Procurement Overhaul A Poor Fit for County Contracts

On March 8, 2022, Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified before the House Health and Government Operations Committee in opposition to HB 1353 – Omnibus Procurement Reform Act (“OPRA”) of 2022. This bill would place county contracts involving any state funds at all beneath a variety of state procurement rules, and subject them to a peculiar appeals process where the county may only defend itself that its actions were “fiscally necessary” by a very high standard of “clear and convincing evidence.”

Mr. Sanderson suggested that the inclusion of county-managed contracts into the bill was “a square peg, at best.”

From the MACo testimony

State/county collaboration on projects and services is routine, with the State frequently playing a lesser, or even ancillary, role in the funding of projects or functions delivered locally. Counties, when required to procure various requirements for such joint functions, are currently subject to substantial requirements promoting fairness and transparency. Bidders are afforded due process in all such systems.

Counties are particularly concerned with the provisions of HB 1353 that would bring an overwhelming influx of projects under the State’s appeals processes. This would include all appeals claims for cancellations of bids or requests for proposals, if even once cent of state funding is used in the project. To illustrate the breadth of this decree, it would include all public school construction projects completed in the state, all the way down to small-scale service where state funds played a minor complementary role for a county government.

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