Public contracts database to go online in 2013By Staff Reports Published 4:30pm Thursday, December 20, 2012
MONTGOMERY – Alabamians will soon have access to view, and potentially bid on, requests for public contracts from state agencies thanks to an online, statewide database that will go live in January 2013.
The lawmaker who sponsored legislation to create the database, Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), applauded Governor Robert Bentley and Finance Department officials for working diligently to implement the new law, which passed in the 2012 legislative session, ensuring that the database is online and operational by the beginning of 2013.
The law requires the State Purchasing Division to maintain a statewide database of bid requests or proposals for a public contract with the state.
“Putting state contract requests online for the public to see is another positive step for open, accountable government,” Orr said. “By increasing exposure on these contracts, we’re likely to see more competition and, in return, a greater opportunity to select the most cost-effective option for state agencies. There are likely many cases right now where the state’s not getting the best deal simply because businesses don’t know when a state contract is up for bid. This platform gives potential vendors, and the general public, the necessary tools to keep up with the state’s business.”
Orr added that the online database will help ensure Alabama companies are able to compete for state business.
A total of $88.4 million in contracts were awarded by the State of Alabama between February and July of 2011, with slightly less than half of the total dollar value going to Alabama companies. According to a report from the state Examiners of Public Accounts, a total of 332 contracts were awarded during the six-month period with 59 contracts totaling $44.9 million going to out-of-state companies.
“This database will help protect and promote Alabama jobs by making sure homegrown Alabama companies have the information they need to compete for these contracts,” said Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), who serves as Chairman of the Legislative Contract Review Committee. “On contracts that are awarded to out-of-state companies, one of the first questions we ask on the Contract Review Committee is whether an Alabama company turned in a bid. Many times the answer is ‘no.’ Our hope is that this tool will raise awareness and help keep those contracts in state.”