The Business Council of New York State opposes this legislation which imposes burdensome, duplicative ill-defined analysis requirements on state agencies prior to entering into a consultant services contract anticipated to be in excess of $500,000 in a twelve-month period.
The bill specifically requires state agencies to determine whether state employees can “practicably meet the same need by providing services of the same or better quality for equivalent or lower cost.” With no definitions or standards contained within the bill on terms such as “practicably”, “same or better”, “equivalent or lower”, there is no means by which the actual analysis performed could be evaluated for consistency and accuracy to achieve the bill's intended purpose.
The legislation is duplicative, if the intended purpose of the bill is to bring heightened scrutiny to consultant contract spending by agencies and the services those contracts are providing. Chapter 10 of the Laws of 2006 significantly expanded the amount and type of information that agencies must report when they hire outside consultants, including the number of consultants utilized on a specific project, historical information about consultant use by the agency, and a projection of future consultant use and costs throughout the term of the contract. Current State Procurement Guidelines recommend that agencies provide detailed justification of their purchasing practices in the contract procurement record, and procurements conducted through an RFP process must document how “best value for the State of New York” was determined. State agencies undertake detailed procurement procedures long before an award or contract is given, with many levels of scrutiny both within the agency and from external control agencies. This is an expected management role, and one that achieves the appropriate balance as any spending is proposed.
There is also no consideration in the legislation for the important balance a state agency must maintain between its core mission and the use of consultants. Consultants often are a key element in allowing an agency to direct and strengthen its resources on its core mission, while using consultants to appropriately carry out functions which are necessary to agency functioning, but not a core mission of the agency.
In this time when state funds from all sources are seriously constrained, there is no question that it is important to identify and cut waste at all levels of government. Cutting waste will not address the scope of our state's fiscal crisis and state agencies have been asked by the Executive and Division of Budget to scrutinize all levels of spending across their agencies, to eliminate or reduce where possible, and agencies have responded. This includes spending on existing contracts and on the issuance of any new awards. State agencies have faced the same daunting tasks that the private sector has faced in this recession: they have had to focus their efforts on continuing to provide the services required of their core mission with limited resources. There is no justification to add at this time additional analysis burdens which will take staff time and resources, when sufficient provisions exist within state law to ensure funds are being appropriately spent and an agency's use of its personnel on carrying out its core mission is not being compromised.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation.