In considering an extension of the state’s procurement lobbying act, The Business Council strongly recommends that the legislature clarify what constitutes a “restricted period” regarding specific procurement efforts. Specifically, legislation should indicate that an agency’s “determination of need” does not preclude agency personnel from communicating with vendors.
New York’s Procurement Lobbying Law (State Finance Law Sections 139-j and 139-k)—which went into effect in 2006 and is currently scheduled to sunset on July 31, 2016—imposes a “restricted period” on communications that begins with the earliest written notice of an agency’s solicitation of bids and ends upon the Comptroller’s approval of the contract. However, The Business Council has heard from numerous vendors that bid on New York State contracts that agencies will often commence a restricted period on communications before the first written notice. This arbitrary commencement of the restricted period is a source of frustration among vendors, who are often told by agencies that a contract has gone into the restricted period coinciding with the first “determination of need.”
Although the Procurement Lobbying Law’s reporting requirements are triggered at an agency’s earliest determination of need, state law does not preclude personnel from communicating with offerers until the earliest written notice of a RFP or RFI.
Clarifying that a restricted period begins only at the first written notice of an agency’s solicitation of bids will improve communications between the state and the business community, and will provide bidders with a “bright line” definition of the commencement of the restricted period.
We urge the legislature to adopt this common sense reform as part of its extension of the procurement lobbying law.