Lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee heard an update today on their 2014 report on strengthening state contract management, which had called for significant changes. Staffer Amanda Bartlett reported that after proposed rule changes were defeated in the last legislative session, a legislative interim committee is now examining the state’s contract and procurement practices; she deferred to Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, who serves on that joint panel, for an update on its work.
Bell said the purchasing interim committee has adjourned for this year and will meet again in January. “There is an assumption that the committee will ask for an extension,” Bell said. “There is too much to bite off at this time.” The panel has drafted a revision of state code, putting all procurement provisions into the same title, she said. “And then the other parts of it will come along as we continue to work. As Sen. Davis has said, we have a Christmas tree, and we’ve been hanging ornaments on it. At this point, it’s rather sparse, because we want to go a little more slowly, and make sure that when we raise forth some legislation, that we can get it passed.”
At the interim committee’s last meeting on Dec. 4, members voted to approve two of the seven proposed bills they examined to make changes in the state’s purchasing laws; they sent the other five back for revisions and set their next meeting for Jan. 14. When they’re done, the panel hopes to have a completely revamped state purchasing code, including new, more far-reaching ethics rules, training requirements for all state employees involved in purchasing and more.
State Department of Administration Director Bob Geddes told JLOC, “Our impression of the work that the purchasing interim committee has done has been very thorough. We’ve worked very closely with them; we like the direction that they’re moving toward. It is a monumental task to revise all the purchasing laws and update those, as they have not had a significant revision since about 1975.”
Geddes said of the panel, “We think that they have used good judgment and wise foresight in asking for more time to do a more thorough and comprehensive job in looking at those statutes to make the necessary changes, and we support those efforts.”