DOVER – Contractors who routinely run over schedule, over budget, or short of quality standards might lose State business under legislation passed today by the Senate.
Senate Bill 208, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Nicole Poore, D-New Castle,corrects a wrinkle in Delaware law that requires State agencies to accept the lowest bid for public works projects, even from contractors with a poor record of performance.
The bill comes in response to complaints from constituents, small businesses, and nonprofits frustrated by construction projects delayed by insufficient planning and shoddy workmanship.
“Every Delawarean has seen this problem,” said Sen. Poore. “Far too many construction projects have gone awry because the State’s procurement process doesn’t account for contractors’ past performance. When you’re an hourly worker caught in traffic, or a small business owner whose customers are detouring around you, or a nonprofit trying to get thousands of people to a 5k on the wrong side of a closed bridge, every day that a contractor runs over schedule is a serious financial issue.”
In practice, the lowest bid on a public works project may not always be the least expensive. Poor planning and unforeseen problems recently caused a bridge repair project in New Castle to run roughly four months over schedule and $1 million over budget.
Current law requires State agencies to collect contractor performance reviews during the prequalification process, but does not include any objective standard by which past performance is evaluated.
“Transportation projects are integral to our communities’ vitality and sustainability, and our residents deserve to know the timetables and details of this infrastructure,” said Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow. “This legislation adds important safeguards so that citizens know specific performance reviews and updates related to transportation infrastructure work.”
Under SB 208:
If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by Governor John Carney, SB 208 would take effect on January 1, 2019.