Bill Aiming To Fix Loophole In State Bidding Procedures Headed To Gov. Stitt

Bill Aiming To Fix Loophole In State Bidding Procedures Headed To Gov. Stitt

A state audit was released this week probing into alleged misspent federal dollars. Now state lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that would hopefully prevent this from happening again.

“We need to fix this,” said Rep. Jay Steagall (R-Yukon). “Our taxpayers deserve transparency in how their state government is spending their hard earned tax dollars; and this is a very severe problem that we have to address immediately.”

Federal guidelines require the state follow competitive bidding procedures in place before awarding contracts. But Rep. Jay Steagall says the Office of Management and Enterprise Services was using a loophole in state statute to get around that.

“The big idea behind the Central Purchasing Act is to make sure that vendors across the state have the option to put bids in to provide goods or services for the state on an equal playing field,” said Rep. Steagall.

The way current law is written, Rep. Steagall says, OMES was not technically breaking the law when bypassing the contract bidding process. 

“We've seen the agency direct work by or from certain agencies to certain vendors circumventing the open bid process or the competitive negotiation process: both of which are required by statute,” said Rep. Steagall.

House bill 3057 would eliminate the Central Purchasing Act exemption for IT purchases by OMES. The approval and purchase of all equipment, products and services would be subject to the competitive bidding and central purchasing requirements.

“It will require all the work in the IT department to be put out to bid to providers who are actually qualified to put that bud out,” said Rep. Steagall.

Rep. Steagall says it may take years to figure out how this bypassing of the bidding processes actually cost taxpayers, but says he’s hoping his legislation will fix the problem in the future.

“The system has obviously been abused and because of that abuse we're gonna take a look at legislation like this to ensure transparency is provided to our taxpayers and how their hard owned dollars are spent,” said Rep. Steagall.

The legislation passed unanimously out of the House and Senate and is now on the governor's desk.