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For municipalities, using Statewide Contracts (SWCs) can help save time and money. By using SWCs, municipalities do not need to invest valuable time developing solicitations, issuing bids, evaluating responses, and executing contracts. OSD has negotiated the pricing, selected the appropriate vendors, and outlined the services the vendors perform relative to the contract. COMMBUYS, the Commonwealth’s web-based market center for all procurement and purchasing activities, serves as a public record for various notification postings, including Grant Opportunity and Award Notices. Notices posted in COMMBUYS, as well as bids and contracts, may be viewed by the public who may access the tool without setting up an account. All 351 cities and towns are eligible to be a part of COMMBUYS today free of charge, eliminating the need to purchase their own procurement tools.

On January 20, Gary Lambert, Assistant Secretary of OSD, testified at the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight hearing in support of Bill H. 3909, “An Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government.” The bill looks to empower municipalities by eliminating or updating obsolete laws, promoting local independence, streamlining state oversight, and providing municipalities with greater flexibility. As part of the bill, the dollar threshold on use of SWCs for both horizontal and vertical construction-related activities would increase to $50,000, facilitating streamlined procurement.

construction truck on concreteUnder the current statutory framework, many of OSD’s SWCs encompass products and services, such as installation, maintenance, and repair, which are deemed construction but are part of a larger transaction that includes purchase of goods. The current limit of $10,000 means that SWCs cannot incorporate construction-related services that exceed that amount, diminishing the effectiveness of the contract. Additionally, in prior years, OSD bid out SWCs for tradesperson services, i.e. plumbers, electricians, carpenters under our legal and regulatory authority. Because OSD was limited in making these types of services available with a spending cap of $10,000, we no longer offer a tradesperson contract. The proposed statutory changes would allow OSD to create new SWCs for these types of services that will have greater utility for cities and towns.

The higher threshold further streamlines the municipality’s process by eliminating the public notification requirement, as OSD issues public notice when soliciting bids for SWCs, giving any vendor an equal opportunity to respond to a bid. By shifting the public notice requirement for construction-based projects away from a paid newspaper advertisement to COMMBUYS and other free, online resources, municipalities will benefit from reduced advertising expenditures, and greater exposure to a broad base of vendors who may wish to compete for their business.

For Governor Baker’s December 7, 2015 press release on the bill, click here.

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