Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver announced final agreement on a 2012 state budget. Formal adoption will begin shortly. This soon-to-be state fiscal plan contains significant changes to the state procurement law that will positively affect the ability of academic and research libraries to save money, improve collaboration, and gain needed leverage in contractual negotiations.
The new procurement reforms were the top advocacy priority for NYSHEI in the current session, and their enactment will pave the way for continued NYSHEI success by removing the need to obtain statutory authority to actualize NYSHEI initiatives like ARIA (Academic Research Information Access) and CIRA (Clinical Information Resource Access).
While final implementation of the procurement changes will require continuing work to shape the regulatory and policy applications of the state Office of General Services (OGS), a summary of the statutory changes is below.
* Information resources are defined, unifying the procurement governance of academic, professional, and industry journals, reference handbooks and manuals, research tracking tools, indexes and abstracts. Previously such information resources were scattered in law and thus subject to separate policy.
Information resources are now established as commodities. Previously information resources could be viewed as commodities, services, or technologies.
*Authority is granted to the Commissioner of OGS to authorize the use of centralized contracts, thus removing the potential limitations on participation resulting from statutory exclusions.
* The responsibility for payments on purchases made under central contracts is explicitly placed on the purchaser. This removes a potential interpretation that the state could be liable for defaults. The potential for state liability was a major stumbling block in the realization of ARIA and CIRA.
* Central contracts for information resources may be initiated by a state agency, or by the Commissioner of OGS upon request by a not-for-profit, a consortia, or other library association, among others.
* The threshold for initiation of the procurement process for commodities is raised from $15,000 to $50,000.
* For many commodity contracts the pre-approval process is replaced with post-contract reporting. This will improve flexibility and speed of securing needed information resources.
* In central contract purchases, the participation of independent not-for-profit institutions of higher education is explicitly permitted.
Taken together, these changes will empower academic and research libraries – both public and private – to leverage greater buying power and proceed in purchases with greater efficiency. This new process will open the possibilities of new collaborations and efforts to obtain widely desired information resources.
NYSHEI is grateful to the Governor, legislators, and OGS Commissioner Destito for recognizing the challenges confronting libraries. We are most appreciative of their willingness to partner with NYSHEI to craft the changes, and look forward to our continued partnership to secure proper implementation of the reforms.
The procurement law changes are contained in state budget bill A.9055-D.