Legislative panel begins work on state contractors

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Committee on Procurement – led by Illinois Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) – held its first hearing this week to publicly establish its mission and invite testimony from interested parties.

The recently formed committee represents another step in the process of reforming Illinois government in the wake of numerous scandals, including the impeachment and ultimate removal of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial on corruption charges continues in federal court in Chicago.

“While it’s unfortunate that Illinois has had to deal with a number of corrupt officials, one positive aspect of the Blagojevich episode is that we have an opportunity to take a hard look at state government and determine how we can make ourselves more accountable to the people we serve,” Harmon said in a press release.

“One of the issues that most needed our attention was the procurement process. Under Rod Blagojevich, government contracts were frequently used to reward big donors for campaign contributions,” Harmon said. “It was imperative to make that process more transparent and reduce the influence that money has in our political system.”

While the procurement reform passed by the legislature was widely seen as a positive step for Illinois, numerous concerns are being raised now that some of the reform bill’s more stringent provisions could actually stifle innovations, create inefficiencies, and hurt businesses and research institutions throughout the state, Harmon said.

Senate Resolution 118 created a six-member bipartisan Senate Committee on Procurement to hear and respond to those concerns.

“As important as it is that we have a fair and transparent process for awarding contracts, it’s equally vital that we do all we can do promote businesses development in Illinois, especially at a time when so many people are out of work and we’re trying to create jobs,” Harmon said. “The Procurement Committee allows all interested parties to share their viewpoints on how we can maintain an open process while also enhancing opportunities for business and research.”

The Senate Committee on Procurement will be made up of three members appointed by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and three members appointed by Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. Harmon will co-chair the committee with Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry).

“We want to engage as many people as possible on this issue, including our colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Harmon said. “I look forward to working with Sen. Althoff and the other members of the committee to find a reasonable and responsible solution to this issue.”

To see who has testified before the committee and read what’s been submitted, click here.

If you want to submit comments, e-mail Sen. Harmon at dharmon@senatedem.ilga.gov.


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