"BEST VALUE" PURCHASING FOR VILLAGES
Dear Village Officials,
In 2011, the State Legislature passed legislation authorizing villages to use the standard of "best value" (in lieu of "lowest responsible bidder") for certain purchase contracts. The law amended General Municipal Law section 103, and defined "best value" as a selection which optimizes quality, cost and efficiency among responsive and responsible offerers. Use of the standard should reflect (where possible) objective and quantifiable analysis, e.g., a scoring, grading or other evaluation system weighing multiple factors.
The good news is that the legislation offers villages an additional tool with which choices can be made that better reflect quality rather than only price, and which enables villages to join certain multi-jurisdictional purchasing Cooperatives previously closed to them. Unfortunately, there is also risk: the enabling state statute is arguably poorly drawn, lacks adequate guidelines from the State Comptroller's Office, and could well lead to litigation by vendors passed over on a "best value" standard (but who would have been selected on a "lowest responsible bidder" standard). The enabling legislation also calls for the village to enact "standards" when employing the "best value" criteria, and the enactment of those standards (in the absence of State Comptroller guidelines) could be challenged.
Whether use of the new law (which requires adoption through a local village law) works for your village is a topic to be discussed with your individual village attorney. As always, SCVOA - and its Counsel - are here to help.
Hon. Peter A. Bee, Esq.
Suffolk County Village Officials Association