Senate approves Jones bill to give all bidders a fair shot

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to ensure that all companies compete on an equal playing field when bidding for a public contract.

“It is ridiculous that vendors could use FOIA to look at bids from their competitors before a final decision has been made on the project contract — giving them an unfair advantage,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The abuse of our FOIA system to undercut Michigan businesses needs to stop. Without this change, the state could also be missing out on savings because companies can use FOIA to see the current lowest bid and then come in just under it — even if they were going to offer a much lower bid.”

Senate Bill 69 would exempt a bid, quote or proposal involved in a procurement process from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) until the final notification that the contract is awarded.

The bill would also exempt trade secrets and financial or proprietary information from FOIA.

“We want to attract the best companies to Michigan, but many businesses are refusing to participate in our procurement process because they fear that their trade secrets or financial information will be compromised,” Jones said. “This legislation would put us in line with 41 other states that protect financial and proprietary information by exempting it from FOIA.”

Jones said that the proposed reform would only change the timing of bid disclosure information, and there would still be transparency once the contract has been awarded.

SB 69 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.