January 31, 2012
UCONN CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS
By: Terrance Adams, Legislative Analyst II
You asked for a description of how UConn awards construction contracts, including whether it offers any preferences to in-state firms. You also asked for the percentage of contracts awarded to in-state firms.
UConn construction contracts are publicly bid and awarded to the lowest responsible prequalified bidder. For each project, contractors must first prequalify with the university before they are invited to bid. These requirements may be waived if the UConn Board of Trustees deems the contract to be an emergency.
While UConn does not have any in-state preferences for construction contracts, a recent report by the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) found that, in the past three years, the university awarded 95% of its construction contracts and 84% of its construction services contracts (e.g., design and architectural services) to Connecticut companies.
Construction services contracts do have a geographic (but not an in-state) preference. In awarding such contracts, UConn considers a firm's knowledge of the state building code as well as its primary office location. However, the location preference is available to firms located within 100 miles of the project site, meaning that firms in surrounding states qualify.
The law (CGS § 10a-109n(c)(2)(A)) requires UConn construction projects costing more than $500,000 to be publicly bid and awarded to a contractor prequalified by the university. UConn must post bidding opportunities on its website and the State Contracting Portal, which is located on DAS's website. UConn must also advertise the bidding opportunity in a newspaper with general circulation in the state.
Only contractors prequalified by DAS for state construction projects are eligible to prequalify for UConn projects (see OLR Report 2007-R-0596 for more information on DAS prequalification). UConn's prequalification criteria include:
1. previous experience with similar projects and a satisfactory level of performance on such projects;
2. financial ability to complete the project, including sufficient bonding capacity;
3. managerial ability;
4. technical ability;
5. integrity, including a record of harmonious client relations, an absence of criminal convictions for certain offenses related to the submission of bids or proposals, and compliance with (a) state and federal wage laws, (b) non-discrimination and affirmative action laws, (c) the State Occupational Health and Safety Act and federal Occupational Health and Safety Act, and (d) the National Labor Relations Act; and
6. an absence of conflicts of interest.
Once a firm has prequalified for a UConn project, it is invited to bid on that project, with the manner and submission of the bids determined by the university. After the firms submit bids, UConn opens them publicly and awards the contract to the lowest responsible bidder who
meets the project's standards. UConn, in its discretion, may waive minor irregularities if it considers doing so to be in its best interest. It also reserves the right to reject all bids.
Department of Administrative Services: Report on In-State Preference Policy in State Procurement http://das.ct.gov/images/1090/In%20state%20Preference%20report%202012.pdf
University of Connecticut: Notice and Instructions to Bidders http://www.cpca.uconn.edu/important_information/Info/InstructionstoBidders.pdf