Author of anti-bid
shopping bill shares views
Feb. 12, 2002
The national American Subcontractors Association interviewed Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., about his views relating to bid shopping and the related legislation he introduced, H.R. 1859, which ASA national supports. Following are the questions and the congressman’s responses.
What interested you in the subject of bid shopping?
I heard from subcontractors around the country who were concerned about this unfair practice, including a constituent of mine, a skylight specialist in Bloomsburg, Pa.
How would your legislation benefit taxpayers and, more specifically, the construction industry?
Banning bid shopping would benefit taxpayers by making sure that work done with their federal tax dollars is quality work, rather than shopped around after the bid to a subcontractor who can settle for less than what the contractor promised as part of its bid with the federal government. Bid shopping threatens the integrity of the competitive bid system, which is important not only to the construction industry but also the larger economy.
Cost savings gained in bid shopping are not passed on to the federal government or taxpayer. Instead, what is passed on is a reduction in quality and value.
Mentioned in this Article
Banning bid shopping would benefit subcontractors by protecting them against having to choose between losing business or cutting corners to keep work they have already been promised.
What are some of the criticisms of your proposal and how would you answer them?
Certain critics have claimed that my legislation would give federal contracting officers too much discretion or that it does not provide enough detail on what constitutes bid shopping. I would respond by inviting critics to read the legislation more carefully.
For example, it clearly defines bid shopping: "The term ‘bid shopping’ means the practice of a contractor asking, requiring or otherwise pressuring a subcontractor to lower bids for subcontracts or accepting lower bids from subcontractors, after submitting a bid without passing the savings from the lower bids back to the federal government."
What can ASA and its members do to help enact anti-bid shopping legislation?
First, I would like to express my appreciation for the support that ASA and its members have already provided for this legislation. I would simply urge you to build on the good work you have already done on educating members of Congress and urging them to cosponsor H.R. 1859, the Construction Quality Assurance Act of 2001. In particular, constituents are the best-positioned people to educate lawmakers on the importance of issues such as ending the insidious practice of bid shopping.
For more information on this issue, contact Jim Turpin, the national ASA director of government relations, at 703-684-3450, Ext. 1333 or by email. For more information on ASA, contact the Greater Milwaukee Chapter at 414-276-1743 or visit the Web site.