Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NOPA Applauds GA Bill Passage to End Sole-Source Contracts

/PRNewswire / -- The National Office Products Alliance (NOPA) applauds Georgia Senator Eric Johnson, 1st District and Representative Mark Williams, 178th District for their successful efforts on behalf of small businesses and for the passage of Bill SB-211. The bill removes responsibility for state government purchasing of "routine office supplies used for the daily operation of an office" from the scope of duties of the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS). The practical result of the bill would be to do away with "sole-source" contracts and open the office supplies business with all state government agencies to direct competition among all qualified Georgia businesses.

Unanimously passed by the Georgia State Senate on March 12th and by the House on March 30th by a vote of 144 to 17, the bill need only be signed by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to become law.

Although not law yet, the State already opened the doors to competition last year when a large volume of contract pricing irregularities and unauthorized product substitutions were revealed after an audit of sole-source contract holder Office Depot. Following the audit, DOAS terminated the contract and notified Office Depot that it would suspend the company from participation in state government business for up to one year. A legal appeal by Office Depot led to a settlement with DOAS and a temporary reopening of state government business to all qualified office product dealers.

"SB-211 maintains this present situation, precludes DOAS from issuing a new state contract and alleviates awards based on political pressure from the large national companies," said Chris Bates, president of NOPA. "Small independent dealers have fought long and hard to recapture state business they believe was unfairly awarded to a single national company several years ago. SB-211 ensures that state customers continue to receive "best value" when purchasing office supplies."

"Our successes show what independents can achieve when we work together," commented Juanita Strickland of Malone Office Environments in Columbus, GA. "With the current state of the economy, it's more important than ever for government, particularly at the state level, to support small business and our bill does just that."

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