The D.C. Council has passed Council member Kenyan McDuffie’s legislation to make it easier for vendors to work with District government.
The legislation will create a single web page to link all District government contracting opportunities, bring vendor invoicing and payments online, and ease dispute resolution between prime and subcontractors, McDuffie said in a news release.
McDuffie, the chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, earlier introduced the legislation and titled it, “The Accessible and Transparent Procurement Amendment Act of 2018.”
It incorporates parts of two other bills that he introduced last year, “The Quick Payment Amendment Act of 2017,” and the “Government Contractor-Subcontractor Dispute Resolution Amendment Act of 2017.”
“The District of Columbia should be intentional in how it spends taxpayer money,” McDuffie said. “These bills will help smaller businesses in the District compete for contracts by making it easier for firms to find business opportunities; taking invoicing and payments online and into the 21st century,” he said.
The bill also will provide dispute resolution options for smaller businesses who often participate as subcontractors, McDuffie said.
The bill requires the District’s chief procurement officer – or CPO – to create a single web page that contains links to all the procurement solicitation websites for all city agencies.
While most contracts are solicited through a central online system, currently at least 12 agencies are independent of the CPO’s authority and do not use its central solicitation system.
“This bill requires those disparate systems to be linked by a single web page. Furthermore, the bill moves the District toward one searchable procurement system by instructing those agencies with independent solicitation systems to not renew or upgrade their current systems, and instead migrate to the central system,” McDuffie said.
The components of the bill that draw from the Quick Payment Amendment Act of 2017 would create a more advanced vendor payment portal that will allow anyone to view payments by the District and would provide for future functionality with electronic invoicing and electronic vendor payments, he said.
Currently, the District only accepts hard copy invoices and cannot make electronic payments to vendors.
McDuffie said he also introduced the Government Contractor-Subcontractor Dispute Resolution Amendment last year in response to concerns from the subcontractor community, whom he said often feels beholden to prime contractors.
“As passed, this legislation provides subcontractors the option to include a new common contract clause in contracts between the District and a prime contractor, requiring that the prime contractor include in its contract with a subcontractor a dispute resolution clause,” McDuffie said.
“The clause requires that the contractor, at the election of a subcontractor, to participate in negotiation and mediation before seeking administrative or judicial resolution,” he said.