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Mayor of Gulfport (MS) Says Open Bidding Fundamental Right of Local Governments, AWWA Wrong to Oppose

Jun 2016

“[It] is with some consternation that I learned of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) opposition to competitive bidding for water and sewer piping materials (Click here for AWWA legislative alert) which could save states and municipalities millions of dollars. This is the same anticompetitive position held by the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association, which lobbies on behalf of iron pipe producers. I find this pursuit of commercial interest very unsettling considering the AWWA touts itself as an independent professional organization of public utility engineers. As well, it begs the question whether AWWA’s activities in this area involve restriction of trade.”

“Responsible elected officials, financial professionals and utility engineers must support and promote open competition and the need for alternative products and materials in bidding processes for underground infrastructure. Moreover, this is a fundamental right and responsibility of all municipal governments. To oppose this right and threaten to mobilize AWWA’s resources against a municipality that is considering opening up its bidding processes to competition is disquieting. DIPRA and the iron pipe industry do not support competitive material bidding, preferring instead iron pipe-only specifications, which increases costs and deprives citizens of access to the most suitable products...Finding that best type of pipe can only be decided by open and fair competition for pipe materials.”

“The AWWA legislative alert is also very misleading in suggesting that competitive procurement “forces” utilities to specify piping materials “the utility may think unsuited for a particular application” and “has the effect of forcing the selection of materials, to be based solely on price.” On the contrary, open competition preserves the autonomy of the design engineer since all pipe materials are qualified and selected based on sound engineering principles. Moreover, by allowing contractors to bid on alternate pipe materials that meet technical performance criteria, the municipality will instill accountability in the procurement process which will reduce costs for all piping purchased, improve quality, and foster innovation.”

Click here for a copy of Gulfport (MS) Mayor Hewes’ open letter.