Oppose professional services bill with fiscal impact for local taxpayers

February 9, 2015

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Oppose professional services bill with fiscal impact for local taxpayers

ACTION
VACo opposes HB 1540 (Albo), which prohibits local governments from asking for any pricing information when procuring professional services until the finalist is chosen to negotiate with. The bill passed out of a House Appropriations Subcommittee on February 6 on a 4-3 vote after the patron amended HB 1540 to exempt the state. The Commission on Local Government’s Local Fiscal Impact Statement shows the bill will add significant costs to procuring professional services for localities.

The bill will be discussed on Monday, February 9 by the House of Delegates and voted on Tuesday, February 10.

Please email or call members of the House of Delegates TODAY and urge them to oppose HB 1540.

THE ISSUE
The bill changes the public procurement act to prevent localities, but not the state, from asking for price information when putting out bids for professional services. Professional services include accounting, actuarial services, architecture, land surveying, landscape architecture, law, dentistry, medicine, optometry, pharmacy or professional engineering.

Currently, the law provides that public bodies cannot ask for price in proposals. The locality chooses candidates to interview based solely on qualifications. At the discussion stage, they ask for non-binding estimates of cost for the project. The proposals are then ranked and negotiations begin with the highest ranked vendor. Architects and engineers have requested this legislation that prohibits public bodies from asking for price information. Therefore, localities would be forced to rank and interview the candidates with no price information.

TALKING POINTS

  • The purpose of public procurement is to obtain the best quality goods and services at the lowest price to the taxpayers. This is difficult to achieve if the selection must be made without any price information. As stewards of the public purse it is crucial for public bodies to have some pricing information when procuring professional services.
  • This change in process would increase the cost of professional services to all localities throughout the Commonwealth and especially harm smaller localities who only occasionally procure these services.

KEY CONTACT
House of Delegates

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, CAE

 

 

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