Achieving the best value for New Hampshire communities and taxpayers requires a conscientious evaluation of all the potential costs and impacts of public procurement decisions. “Best value” procurement standards expand the criteria for selecting a contractor for state-funded construction projects and vendor services beyond the default practice of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, regardless of an applicant’s record of poor past performance or history of labor violations.
Rather than saving public money, lowest-bid procurement standards can have serious negative impacts on working people, communities and state revenue. If a low-bid contractor cuts operating costs by misclassifying employees as independent contractors (a common labor violation in the construction industry), the state subsequently loses business tax revenue and is obligated to cover workers’ compensation costs for misclassified employees who get hurt on the job. If a low-bidder achieves cost savings by cutting back on the training, skill level or experience of the workforce or by using substandard materials, it can contribute to unsafe working conditions, increase costly change orders to correct subpar work and produce a lower-quality end product with higher repair and maintenance costs over time.
The state of New Hampshire must consider the public interest and community good before giving default preference to low-bid contractors with a known record of non-compliance with state labor, tax, insurance and safety laws, and give fair consideration to the added value of awarding bids to high-road contractors who have a demonstrated track-record of delivering top-quality services and on-time project completion at a competitive cost, while also providing safe workplaces, living wages and middle-class job benefits for their employees.