Jan 26 2004


President Signs FY 2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act into Law

U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Transportation, Treasury, and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, applauded the President for signing the FY 2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law. Included in the bill was an important provision, authored by Senator Shelby, that will increase competition among manufacturers and vendors for federal contracts.

This provision gives private manufacturing companies and vendors nationwide the opportunity to compete for federal government contracts. The previous law gave the Federal Prison Industries (FPI), a depression-era federal agency, special status in the federal procurement process, essentially granting them contracts even if a private company had submitted a lower bid for the same work.

Sen. Shelby said, "I am pleased that we have righted this wrong that has plagued manufacturing companies and vendors for many years. Not only does this provision make sense and is fundamental to a free market system, it provides private companies with the same opportunity to compete for federal contracts as anyone else. This provision also requires federal agencies to use competitive procedures when procuring goods and services so as to get the best value for the taxpayer's dollar."

In 2003, Steelcase, Inc., located in Athens, AL contacted Senator Shelby because a bid they had submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to remodel furniture in the FAA's offices was given to UNICOR (which is the marketing name for FPI). UNICOR was able to obtain a copy of Steelcase's bid, copy it line by line, submit it to the FAA, and then they were granted the contract.

"After learning of Steelcase's situation and similar situations affecting companies nationwide, I introduced an amendment, which is now law, into the Transportation Appropriation bill to reform this anti-competitive process," Shelby said.

"Finally, small and large companies will now have the opportunity to apply for and be granted government contracts, which will benefit their revenue and our overall economy," Shelby concluded.