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Measure Would Create Online Database for ‘One-Stop-Shopping’ for Public Contracts

Legislation Assembly members Annette Quijano, Ruben J. Ramos, Jr., and Wayne P. DeAngelo sponsored to create an Internet database to provide the public with an easily accessible and comprehensive “one-stop” Dest of current information on local requests for proposals has again received final legislative approval by a vote of 75-0-1.

The measure was previously approved by the Senate 39-0 and the Assembly 75-0-2 in January, as part of the Legislature’s “Back to Work NJ” job creation and economic development initiative. In response to the governor’s conditional veto, the Legislature amended the measure to address concerns about the scope of the database and compatibility with the state’s Local Public Contracts Law. The Senate concurred 34-0 with the governor’s recommended amendments in April.

“This measure would improve transparency in local government and make it easier for citizens, groups, and local governments to access information concerning public bidding,” said Quijano (D-Union).

The bill (S-2065/A-3128) would require the State Department of Community Affairs, in consultation with the Office of Information Technology, to design, develop, and maintain a single, searchable Internet database, to be known as “Bulletin NJ,” that would contain and display information on requests for proposals and other government procurement opportunities published by a contracting unit.

“It’s important that we provide contractors and small businesses with a simple, effective means of actively searching through the hundreds of public contracts that are put out to bid,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Doing so will help these contractors get back on sound financial footing and hasten our state’s economic recovery.”

“By making publicly contracted jobs and other public contract opportunities accessible to everyone, we increase our chances of finding more highly qualified workers at perhaps a better rate to help contain costs,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex).

The bill was amended to:

– Eliminate the portion of the database that would have dealt with public employment opportunities;

– Include public contracting opportunities under the Public School Contracts Law;

– Adjust the detailed requirements for the content of the database to mirror Local Public Contracts Law requirements;

– Clarify that failing to post a contracting opportunity would not invalidate a binding contract entered into under the Local Public Contracts or Public School Contracts laws;

– Provide the state Division of Local Government Services necessary rulemaking authority; and

– Change the effective date of the legislation from July 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012.

Under the amended legislation, the database would provide prospective bidders with the following information: 1) a detailed description of the services required; 2) the format and procedure that would be followed in submitting proposals; 3) the specific information which qualified vendors would provide in the proposal; 4) a statement setting forth the relative importance of factors, including cost, which the contracting unit would consider in evaluating a proposal submitted by a qualified vendor; 5) the deadline by which proposals must be submitted to the contracting unit; and (6) any other information the contracting unit deems appropriate.