OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND CONTRACTING PROCEDURES FOR THE METROPOLITAN DISTRICT OF HARTFORD COUNTY.
The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) is a nonprofit municipal corporation providing water and sewer service in the Hartford area. It operates primarily under a 1929 special act and answers to a 29-member commission consisting mostly of municipal representatives. Consequently, it has its own policies and procedures for hiring and promoting people and procuring goods and services.
This bill requires MDC to comply with state policies governing these activities. It does this by requiring MDC to comply with the same affirmative action laws that apply to state agencies. It also requires the State Contracting Standards Board (SCSB) to adopt regulations MDC must follow to procure goods and services. In doing so, it must consider the circumstances and factors that set MDC apart from state agencies.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009, except for the authorization for the SCSB to adopt regulations governing MDC procurement takes effect January 1, 2010.
The law requires state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions (i. e. , agencies) to develop and implement annual affirmative action plans covering all aspects of personnel and administration. The bill requires MDC to comply with this law.
Consequently, MDC must prepare an annual affirmative action plan in cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and according to its regulations. CHRO has up to 90 days to approve or disapprove the plan. If it disapproves the plan, MDC must submit another plan within six months and continue doing so until CHRO approves it. CHRO must monitor MDC's compliance with the plan and report its finding to the governor and the legislature by April 1 annually.
MDC must also comply with various administrative and procedural requirements. It must designate a full- or part-time affirmative officer responsible for mitigating discriminative behavior, investigating complaints about such behavior, and reporting to the agency head any findings and recommendations after completing the investigation. The officer must complete training provided by CHRO or the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
The MDC must also comply with the law's procedures for addressing discrimination complaints made by or against the agency head, a board or commission member, or the affirmative action officer. In these cases, the officer must refer the complaint to CHRO for review. If appropriate, CHRO must refer the complaint to the Department of Administrative Services.
Current law bans an affirmative action officer from representing his or her agency before CHRO or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding a discrimination complaint. Under these circumstances, the attorney general or his designee must represent the organization, but the bill bans him or his designee from doing so with respect to complaints filed against the MDC. Given this prohibition, it appears that CHRO's affirmative action officer can represent the agency before CHRO or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The bill requires SCSB to adopt regulations governing the way MDC procures goods and services. In doing so, SCSB generally must apply the laws governing the way state agencies procure goods and services, but consider the circumstances and factors unique to MDC. Those laws:
1. require the administrative services commissioner to establish a system for requisitioning supplies, materials, equipment, and contractual services;
2. specify the methods for awarding contracts under a competitive bidding process;
3. require contracts to include provisions allowing agencies to inspect contractors' and subcontractors' work sites and audit their books and records;
4. require contracting agencies and bidders to notify the attorney general when they suspect bidders are colluding or engaging in other anticompetitive practices;
5. allow contracting agencies to request information needed to determine if bid amounts or costs are reasonable;
6. set conditions under which the SCSB can disqualify contractors, bidders, or businesses responding to a request for proposals (i. e. , proposer) from bidding on, applying for, or participating as a contractor or subcontractor under state contracts;
7. set conditions under which state agencies can suspend contractors, bidders, and proposers for up to six months from bidding on, applying for, or performing work as a contractor or subcontractor under a state contract;
8. provide procedures for appealing agency suspensions and contesting contracting processes or selections;
9. require SCSB to cancel or revise bid solicitation or proposed awards violating state law; and
10. require SCSB to adopt regulations establishing procurement policies and procedures and specify the criteria they must meet.
MDC's special act charter allows the commission to:
1. create, maintain, improve, and operate a water system;
2. impound water in and outside of the district's territorial limits;
3. transport water and sell it at retail;
4. build, maintain, and improve sewers and sanitary systems and sewage disposal plants;
5. build, maintain, and improve public highways;
6. collect and dispose of garbage and refuse;
7. build, maintain, improve, and operate hydroelectric dams in and outside the district;
8. transmit and distribute the power produced by these dams to electric utilities or municipalities;
9. establish and maintain active recreational and educational facilities, including a golf course managed on a for-profit basis (althouth these powers apply only to non-reservoir lands in Glastonbury and Manchester);
10. take property by eminent domain;
11. enter into interlocal agreements with municipalities; and
12. exercise a variety of financial powers, including assessing and collecting taxes, borrowing money and pledging the district's credit, issuing bonds, and assessing benefits and damages in the layout of any public improvement.
The law requires state agencies to prepare plans showing how they will overcome past practices, policies, and barriers that continue to deny equal opportunity (i. e. , affirmative action plans). The plans must also show how the agencies will provide for the full and fair employment for women, Blacks, Hispanics, and other protected groups found to be underused in the workforce or affected by policies and practices that have an adverse impact (Conn. Agency Reg. § 46a-68-31).
The plans must contain detailed procedures showing how the agencies will combat discrimination and produce the desired results. They must prepare and approve the procedures according to state law. An affirmative actions plan must contain:
1. a policy statement;
2. identified problem areas;
3. goal, organization, workforce, availability, employment, and utilization analyses;
4. goals and timetables for programs, upward mobility, and hiring and promotion;
5. those responsible for completing specific tasks;
6. procedures for internal and external communication;
7. a grievance procedure;
8. an internal program evaluation;
9. innovative programs; and
10. a concluding statement and signature (Conn. Agency Reg. § 46a-68-32).
PA 07-1, September Special Session established the SCSB as an independent executive branch agency authorized to adopt procurement regulations and review, monitor, and audit state procurement processes. The governor and legislative leaders appoint its 14 members.
The board can exercise any procurement related right, power, duty, and authority vested in or exercised by any state contracting agency. It must oversee procurement practices and train and oversee agencies' procurement and contracting officers. It must audit contracting agencies at least once every three years and may review, terminate, or recommend terminating a contract or procurement agreement for cause.
Planning and Development Committee
Joint Favorable Substitute