Erie County Legislature Reforms Responsible Bidder Law

Matt Kent
February 2, 2021
Erie County Legislature Reforms Responsible Bidder Law

Buffalo, NY – On Thursday, the Erie County Legislature voted to update the 2009 Lowest Responsible Bidder Law, reaffirming the County’s standing as a leader in responsible contracting. The law provides tools to ensure contractors bidding on County-owned construction projects have the capability, performance record, and business integrity to justify the award of taxpayer dollars and can successfully perform the work. The New York Foundation for Fair Contracting (NYFFC) applauds County leaders for strengthening the tools so law abiding contractors who deliver high-quality construction have a fair shot at public works contracts.

“All too often in the construction industry, bad actors gain a competitive advantage by cheating their workers or taxpayers,” said NYFFC Director Matt Kent. “Erie County’s common sense rules of the road ensure that cheaters do not prosper off our tax dollars.”

This reform was made possible thanks to the leadership of bill sponsors Legislature Chair April Baskin, Majority Leader Tim Meyers, and Legislator Howard Johnson. The Legislature’s reform package was enhanced through constructive engagement with the Administration of County Executive Mark Poloncarz, as spearheaded by Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte, an author of the 2009 law. Policymakers were aided by Cathy Creighton, also an original author of the 2009 law and now Director of Cornell University’s Buffalo Co-Lab, who provided expert advice and guidance throughout the process.

Erie County has enforced the law to reject a contractor that withheld evidence of its troubling safety record and worker deaths, and a firm that lied about its felony conviction for defrauding the state by having workers collect unemployment while performing contracts. The reform aligns Erie County and state responsible bidder standards, makes technical fixes to ensure due process throughout contract awards, and expands coverage to all County departments that put construction contracts out to bid.

The NYFFC recognizes Erie County as a leader statewide in government contracting accountability and looks forward to approval and implementation. Municipalities across the state should look to Erie County’s example in awarding hard-earned taxpayer dollars only to the lowest responsible bidders. The New York Foundation for Fair Contracting is a watchdog non-profit established to level the playing field in public works construction for the benefit of taxpayers, upstanding contractors, and workers