Nicholas D. Kovarik, Piggy-Back Laws: More Bang for Your Buck. An Analysis of How Efficient Public Procurement Laws Benefit Counties, Bidders, and Taxpayers, 39 Gonz. L. Rev. 575 (2004).[PDF] [Westlaw] [LexisNexis]
Presently, many states are in the midst of a budget crisis partly due to inefficient public procurement. Public procurement is the government’s acquisition of products, supplies, and equipment. In order to protect public funds, a government acquires such items by competitive bidding. Competitive bidding prevents collusion and favoritism from influencing government officials. Many states such as Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska, however, have recognized the inherent inefficiency that accompanies competitive bidding. In an attempt to streamline the bid process, these four states have enacted piggy-back laws. Piggy-back laws allow one governmental entity to join in or “piggy-back” another governmental entity’s competitively bid procurement. As a result, two or more governmental entities can purchase the same item by competitively bidding the procurement once. Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska all, however, take a different approach to their piggy-back laws.
Washington counties must jump through multiple bureaucratic hoops in order to piggy-back. Montana counties are only allowed to piggy-back state procurements. Idaho encourages counties to set up cooperatives and piggy-back whatever procurement they can. Similarly, Alaska counties are able to piggy-back any government procurement and are free to buy, sell, or trade supplies with one another.
Washington and Montana legislatures should repeal their inefficient piggy-back laws and enact schemes more similar to Idaho and Alaska. This article will explain how piggy-back laws aid counties in the efficient procurement of products, supplies, and equipment. Next, it will critically analyze Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska’s specific piggy-back laws. The article will then look at piggy-back laws from a bidder’s perspective and describe how efficient piggy-back laws can increase business. Finally, it will show that the Idaho and Alaska statutory schemes allow counties to get the most out of each competitively bid procurement…. Read More