I am looking forward to speaking at the Western New York Fire District Legislative Association Workshop tomorrow, and I wanted to write a short post as a resource for those attending.
As I wrote last December, New York expanded the “piggybacking” exception to competitive bidding. Since that time, a number of fire districts have been approached by vendors offering goods and services under other governmental contracts, claiming that the contract falls within the newly expanded “piggybacking” exception. But, as the State Comptroller noted, “It is the responsibility of local officials to review each proposed procurement to determine, on advice of the local government’s counsel as appropriate, whether the procurement falls within the exception.” Thus, we expect to spend quite a bit of time discussing this exception tomorrow, as well as the Comptroller’s November 2012 bulletin discussing this relatively recent amendment.
A copy of the Comptroller’s bulletin may be found here, and I highly recommend reviewing this bulletin before considering whether to make a procurement under this exception to competitive bidding. It is essential that you also involve counsel in the process.
The Comptroller’s Office has an excellent website, with a lot of very useful publications, and one that I recommend every year at this conference is the Comptroller’s Local Government Management Guide titled, Seeking Competition in Procurement. This guide was just amended and reissued on May 2013, and it includes a sample procurement policy–which is one of the first things the Comptroller’s Office asks for when they show up at your door to conduct an audit. This edition of the procurement guide also includes a discussion of the “best value” standard which is now also permitted in New York.
Another topic that will be discussed is the Open Meetings Law. In the beginning of 2012, the Open Meetings Law was amended to require prior disclosure of agendas, proposed resolutions and other documents. Shortly after this amendment was enacted, I wrote about it here.
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