* There is no question that the state’s procurement reforms were a complete overreaction to Rod Blagojevich’s reign of error. Here’s just one problem that was outlined in a 2012 Crain’s article…
The biggest concern, particularly for the construction industry, is that reforms meant to curb influence-peddling effectively have turned into gag orders for state employees, who ultimately could lose their jobs if they don’t properly report discussions with contractors, even if it’s just to clarify policy or processes. Contractors, in turn, fear they will be barred from bidding if they bring a good idea to the state.
“I think there’s broad agreement there were unintended consequences, primarily a chilling of useful communication that in the long run would undermine the state’s best interests,” says Illinois Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, co-chair of the Senate Procurement Committee.
Transportation projects often are too complicated and fast-moving to be completely spelled out in a document. Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider recently issued a memo clarifying rules for vendors to hold discussions with state employees.
The construction industry “appreciates the guidelines, but it’s still a huge problem,” says Jennifer Krug McNaughton, vice president of Lemont-based K-5 Construction Corp. and chairman of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association. “You need to clear it up legislatively.”
It’s a giant mess. Thanks, reformers!
Let this be a lesson: Just because something is called “reform” doesn’t mean the idea is any good or will actually work.
* Gov. Bruce Rauner claims that it takes 9-12 months to complete an RFP process in Illinois. Crazy. And it’s even crazier when you find out the process took only 2-3 months before that “reform” was enacted into law.
So, he outlined a list of changes he wants made today…
Requests for Qualification (RFQ)
• Allows state agencies to create a pre-qualified pool of vendors in different categories of supplies and services, speeding up the process by which the State can receive price quotes and proposals.
• Allows the State to “piggyback” on the procurements of other states, governmental entities, and purchasing consortiums in order to leverage this large buying power, while at the same time speeding up the procurement process.
• Allows an exemption from the procurement code for personal services contracts, public-private
agreements governed by other State statutes, domestic and international trade shows and
exhibitions, tollway improvements when moving railroads and utilities.
• Allows construction agencies to enter into emergency procurements for greater than 90-days in
order to streamline the process of repairing state buildings and structures.
Higher Education Exemptions
• Exempts many procurements that higher education institutions enter into from the
procurement code to increase speed and give purchasing flexibility back to universities.
Energy Conservation Program
• Permits the State to use the Energy Performance Contracting model authorized by statute to enact capital upgrades designed to reduce operating costs and improve the functionality of existing state-owned buildings in lieu of adequate capital funds.
• Creates a preference for buying supplies and services from Illinois businesses.
• Allows vendors to fix issues with their registrations with the State and creates a cure period for
• Adds more clarity and guidance to vendors on what constitutes acceptable communication and
the prohibited bidder process.
• Streamlines the annual certification requirements for multi-year contracts, reducing
• Streamlines the disclosure process for vendors when resolving various issues.
• Streamlines the specifications procedures for procurements by allowing the agency making the procurement the lead on these issues.
• Makes the Illinois Procurement Bulletin more navigable for vendors by requiring bulletins be produced by each agency requiring the procurement.
• Removes the confusing procurement communications reporting requirements for vendors. Streamline the Procurement Reporting Structure
Proposed Structure Supports more Streamlined, Consistent and Efficient Procurement
Revised CPO Structure
• The bill modifies the current Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) structure. Under the current
system, there are four CPOs (General Services, Transportation, Capital Development, Higher Education). The proposed language would place procurement authority in one CPO (CMS Director for General Supplies and Services) with statutory delegations of procurement authority to four Designated Procurement Officers (DPO) (Transportation, Tollway, Capital Development, and Higher Education).
• Returns the Procurement Policy Board to an advisory body and focuses their mission on creating policies and rules consistent with the Procurement Code.
• Streamlines the rulemaking process to eliminate confusion for vendors and businesses by working within one set of rules.
Auditor General Audit
• Requires an audit of procurement every two years, while also allowing the Auditor General to perform surprise audits on the agencies to ensure laws and statutes are being followed.
The problem with undoing reforms, even lousy reforms, is that everybody is gonna think you’ve got a hinky angle. For instance, the governor has been blasting universities for their big-spending ways, but now he wants to let them out of procurement procedures? What up with that?
Well, actually, the universities tried like heck without success to keep themselves out of the procurement process reforms. Many of the problems they predicted turned out to be true.
* I would’ve preferred a bipartisan process on this. The governor’s press conference to unveil his reforms today featured
two three GOP legislators, Dan Brady, Pam Althoff and Chapin Rose.
Hopefully, they can work with the other side of the aisle on this because Rauner isn’t wrong. The Democratic majority didn’t allow Gov. Quinn to change the process when he tried a few years back, but maybe something can be done now because something most definitely should be done.
The full legislation is here. Hopefully, our more knowledgeable commenters can sift through the deets and let us know what they think.