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PROPOSITION 2000 General
35 PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS. USE OF PRIVATE CONTRACTORS FOR ENGINEERING AND ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES.
Analysis
Analysis by the Legislative Analyst

BACKGROUND

Under California constitutional law, services provided by state agencies generally must be performed by state civil service employees. These services cover a broad range of activities—such as clerical support, building maintenance and security, and legal services. In some cases, however, the state may contract with private firms to obtain services. Such contracting is allowed, for example, if services needed by the state are: (1) of a temporary nature, (2) not available within the civil service, or (3) of a highly specialized or technical nature. Unlike the state, local governments are not subject to constitutional restrictions on contracting for services.

The state and local governments frequently contract with private firms for construction-related services, which include architectural, engineering, and environmental impact studies. State and local governments enter into these contracts through a competitive process of advertising for the service, selecting the firm determined to be best qualified, and negotiating a contract with that firm. However, neither the state nor most local government entities use a bidding process for these services. By comparison, bidding generally is used to acquire goods and for construction of projects.

PROPOSAL

This proposition amends the State Constitution to allow the state and local governments to contract with qualified private entities for architectural and engineering services for all phases of a public works project. Thus, governments could decide to contract out for these specific services in any case, rather than just on an exception basis.

The proposition also enacts statutory laws which:

• Define the term “architectural and engineering services” to include all architectural, landscape architectural, environmental, engineering, land surveying, and construction project management services.

• Specify that all projects in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) are covered by the requirements of the proposition. The STIP is the state’s transportation plan that includes public works projects to increase the capacity of the state’s highways and provide transit capital improvements (such as new freeways, new interchanges, and passenger rail rights-of-way). The STIP is the state’s largest ongoing capital improvement program. Thus, the proposition would probably have the greatest impact in the transportation area.

• Require architectural and engineering services to be obtained through a fair, competitive selection process that avoids conflicts of interest.

FISCAL EFFECT

   Impacts on State Costs

Eliminating restrictions on contracting out for architectural and engineering services would make it easier for the state to enter into contracts with private individuals or firms to obtain these services. As a result, the state would likely contract out more of these services. This could affect state costs in two main ways.

Cost of the Services. The fiscal impact would depend on the cost of salaries and benefits for state employees performing architectural and engineering services compared to the cost of contracts with private firms. These costs would vary from project to project. In some cases, costs may be higher to contract out. It may still be in the state’s best interest to do so, however, because of other considerations. For instance, during times of workload growth (such as a short-term surge in construction activity), contracting for services could be faster than hiring and training new state employees. In addition, contracting can prevent the build-up of a “peak-workload” staff that can take time to reduce once workload declines.

For these reasons, the proposition’s net impact on state costs for architectural and engineering services is unknown, and would depend in large part on how the state used the flexibility granted under the measure. Impact on Construction Project Delivery. The ability to contract for architectural and engineering services could also result in construction projects being completed earlier. As noted above, during times of workload growth, the ability to contract for these services could result in projects’ completion earlier than through the hiring and training of new state employees. This, in turn, could have state fiscal impacts—such as savings in construction-related expenses. In these cases, faster project completion would also benefit the public as capital improvements would be in service sooner.

   Impacts on Local Government Costs

There should be little or no fiscal impact on local governments because they generally can now contract for architectural and engineering services.
 


  Analysis by the Legislative Analyst
  Argument in Favor of Proposition 35
  Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Proposition 35
  Argument Against Proposition 35
  Rebuttal to Argument Against Proposition 35
 

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