Nov 13 2003


House-Senate Conference Committee Approve Transportation, Treasury and General Government Conference Report

U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Transportation, Treasury, and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, lauded a provision included in the Transportation Appropriations bill that will increase competition among manufacturers and vendors for federal contracts. The Transportation-Treasury conference report will now be voted on by the full House, full Senate, and then sent to the President's desk.

This amendment 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, “This amendment makes sense and is fundamental to a free market system. Private manufacturers and vendors in Alabama and across the country should have the same opportunity to compete for federal contracts as anyone else. This amendment 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.”

Earlier this year, 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 into the Transportation Appropriation bill to reform this anti-competitive process,” Shelby said.

“I applaud the conference committee for seeing the benefit of this amendment for the manufacturing sector in the United States. 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.