New Law will Ensure Fairness, Strengthen Competition in Government Purchasing

Cindy Morley

Friday, April 26th, 2019

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State Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) said he was looking for “transparency and clarity” when he introduced House Bill 315.

The bill, which requires consultants to disclose any potential conflicts of interest when hired by city or county governments to develop bid specifications, sailed through the House and Senate this session. And last week, Governor Brian Kemp signed the legislation into law.

“Too often we see cozy relationships between vendors, consultants, and government staff that can lead to favoritism among contractors,” said Rep. Newton. “House Bill 315 ensures that state and local government contracting is open, transparent, and truly competitive. This newly signed law will help Georgia taxpayers receive the best service at the lowest price”.

A similar bill passed both chambers last year, but was vetoed by then-Governor Nathan Deal. “We fixed what was wrong with that bill, and a new governor signed it,” said Newton. “We have a good law that will be in place July 1, and we are ready to move forward.”

Newton said HB 315 specifically provides for greater vendor transparency and strengthens competition for government procurements in cities and counties, as well as among local authorities.

“With over $11 billion spent annually by Georgia cities and county governments, contracting should be competitive and transparent,” he told IAG.

Newton explained that language in the new bill allows for bids to be thrown out and disqualified if the regulations required by the new law are not followed. Details of who will oversee the new regulations are being worked out, he said. The Department of Administrative Services oversees this on the state level.

He said he felt compelled to introduce this bill after several incidents took place involving the Atlanta airport vendors. “You just knew that Atlanta wasn’t the only place that this was taking place. I just felt like we had to do something to address this.”