Minnesota 'Re-hires' Consulting Engineers

The clock ran out on Minnesota's moratorium on government consulting contracts June 30, and after much debate, state legislators chose not to extend the ban. In our November, 2002 issue, CSE reported that Minnesota had suspended consulting contracts, a move which reduced work for M/E engineers in that state.

07/01/2003


The clock ran out on Minnesota's moratorium on government consulting contracts June 30, and after much debate, state legislators chose not to extend the ban.

In our November, 2002 issue, CSE reported that Minnesota had suspended consulting contracts, a move which reduced work for M/E engineers in that state. In February 2003, Minnesota legislators Barb Goodwin (house) and Dan Sparks (senate) introduced bills that would have extended the moratorium until 2005, limited contracts to two years (from five) and tightened contract regulation.

Representative Goodwin cited examples of contracts that inspired the bill: a December, 2002, $63,000 no-bid contract to the Minnesota Taxpayer's Association, awarded three days before its director was named commissioner of revenue; another no-bid contract, this one for Web design, awarded to a Virginia company whose project managers charged the state $103 an hour; and a Department of Children, Families and Learning contract awarded to KPMG/Bearing Straight that went $2 million over budget and past deadline without an adequate explanation. During a February press conference, Goodwin called contracts like these "outrageous."

Organizations, such as the Minnesota High Tech Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies in Minnesota (ACECM), opposed the bill, saying that while reform and regulation could be useful, a full moratorium would hurt both the State and engineering firms. ACECM was also involved in lobbying the legislature and produced a list of talking points to help their members explain the engineers' position.

According to Sparks' office, parts of the bill eventually ended up in the state omnibus finance bill passed at the end of May, but the moratorium extension did not survive. The Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers reports that although the state has made some changes to the contracting process, none of these negatively impact the engineering profession.





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