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A Parched Nation Needs Procurement Reform

Dec 2014

Government must reform its procurement practices for improving water infrastructure to ensure the most efficient use of public funds. In an op-ed, Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, calls on state and local governments to allow open bidding for water infrastructure projects.

Over the next 20 years water infrastructure across the country will begin reaching the end of its service life, requiring potentially trillions of dollars in replacement costs. However, current regulations often prohibit the most cost effective piping materials from being considered, PVC included.

Efforts are currently underway to rectify this issue and update procurement policies, some which date back to the early 1900s, before the widespread use of durable plastics like PVC. Earlier this year, Ohio State Rep. Andy Thompson introduced House Bill 417 that would have allowed all proven piping materials to be considered in the bidding process.

Current ordinances in Cleveland for example, date back to 1937 and require only lead, copper, brass, wrought iron, and steel piping be considered. The objective was not to deny the use of any particular piping material, rather all proven materials would be weighed against one another, ensuring the most durable, efficient choice.

“If this procurement policy were extended to the funding provided by EPA to the State Revolving Funds, federal dollars could accomplish much more,” writes Stverak. “All the government needs to do is update the outdated policies that bar newer piping materials from the bidding process. As bidding opens to all piping materials, it will unleash innovation and save precious tax dollars in cash-strapped communities. Simply put, it’s better for everyone.”