EDITORIAL: Time to deal with state’s flawed public contracting system for construction industry

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

Whenever it’s faced with a complex problem, the state Legislature has a history of creating time-wasting commissions, advisory councils or study committees to examine the problem and issue a report — even if the problems and solutions are already well-documented and obvious.

But a new advisory council to deal with public contracting in the construction industry might be worth the effort and might actually produce usable results.

The bill (A6232C/S4323C) would create the Construction Industry Public Contracting Advisory Council to address the state’s complicated public contracting process.

Getting all the interested parties to the table as part of the 21-member advisory council is just one major hurdle.

The other will be identifying where changes need to be made to the patchwork of regulations and laws that have frustrated and befuddled the industry and regulators alike for years.

Among the issues the council will seek to address, according to bill supporters, are problems associated with delayed payments and the harm they cause to contractors and subcontractors, contracting issues that affect minority and women-owned businesses, retention of public works contracts and honing in on an agreeable definition of “substantial completion.”

All those issues will be discussed and hammered out by the multi-faceted council, which will be made up of appointments by the governor’s office, the comptroller’s office, the majority and minority members of the Senate and Assembly, and representatives of general contractors, subcontractors, employee trade councils and minority- and women-business-owned enterprise contractors.

In many circumstances, such a group would finish its discussions and issue a report, which lawmakers might then act upon, or which they might likely set on a shelf or use to prop open heavy doors.

But under this legislation, the report will include specific recommendations for legislation and regulatory solutions that it will be in the interest of all parties involved to put into practice.

Construction industry representatives hope the council’s work will help level the playing field for public contracting and “eliminate the burdensome, unfair and varying contractual terms and conditions that may unfairly benefit New York state.”

With the legislative and regulatory proposals will come the opportunity for lawmakers, the construction industry and taxpayers to review, discuss and debate the proposed changes and hopefully lead to a more fair, more efficient and less costly regulatory structure.

We encourage the governor to sign this bill at his earliest opportunity.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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