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Illinois procurement overhaul moves from concept to legislation


From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD — After a year of evaluating Illinois’ onerous procurement process, the governor’s administration and others have come up with what they say is a comprehensive reform package that has the potential to realize significant savings for  taxpayers.

The legislative package, which will be filed concurrently in both the House and Senate by Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, and Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, respectively, was unveiled during a press conference Tuesday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds 4H building.

“We can do a better job here in Illinois of reducing the cost of delivering government,” said Brady who represents Illinois State University in Normal. “We’re calling on our universities to get their costs down, administratively and otherwise. We must follow suit and throw them a lifeline to allow them to reduce other costs as well; this legislation seeks to do just that.”

Althoff was unable to make the press conference but equally stressed the importance of streamlining the procurement code. “The governor made clear in his State of the State Address that to provide more efficient government we must change the way we purchase goods and services,” she said. “That’s what we’re aiming for here.”

The package would provide both the state as well as individual agencies increased flexibility and efficiencies in purchasing and procurement thus increasing the opportunities for savings. This includes the creation of a pool of pre-qualified vendors for supplies and services, as well as allowing state and local governments to enter into purchasing consortiums in hopes of leveraging buying power. In addition, it would carve out procurement code exemptions for an array of instances including service contracts, trade shows and units of higher education.

Althoff applauded the focus on helping Illinois businesses compete in the process with specific provisions aimed at in-state vendors through the “Buy Illinois” provision. “Our home state vendors undoubtedly deserve a preference in the process, and we’re proud to say that priority made it into the legislation,” she said. In regards to vendors, the legislation would also streamline the certification process and provide a paperwork grace period to vendors seeking to do business with Illinois.

Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, has been a longtime proponent of procurement reform, and stressed that cutting the red tape vendors and businesses face when vying for state business would improve our fiscal condition and help state universities and colleges better manage their future.

“This isn’t chump change. The state’s prescription drug contract was about $3 billion, yet the state’s procurement officer admitted he couldn’t say that we got the cheapest bid,” Rose said. “Let’s stop wasting money and get this done now.”

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