State Finance

* ยง 139-j. Restrictions on contacts during the procurement process. 1. For the purposes of this section, the following terms will have the following meanings unless specified otherwise.

  a. "Governmental entity" shall mean: (1) any department, board, bureau, commission, division, office, council, committee or officer of the state, whether permanent or temporary; (2) each house of the state legislature; (3) the unified court system; (4) any public authority, public benefit corporation or commission created by or existing pursuant to the public authorities law; (5) any public authority or public benefit corporation, at least one of whose members is appointed by the governor or who serves as a member by virtue of holding a civil office of the state; (6) a municipal agency, as that term is defined in paragraph (ii) of subdivision (s) of section one-c of the legislative law; or (7) a subsidiary or affiliate of such a public authority.

  b. "Article of procurement" shall mean a commodity, service, technology, public work, construction, revenue contract, the purchase, sale or lease of real property or an acquisition or granting of other interest in real property, that is the subject of a governmental procurement.

  c. "Contacts" shall mean any oral, written or electronic communication with a governmental entity under circumstances where a reasonable person would infer that the communication was intended to influence the governmental entity's conduct or decision regarding the governmental procurement.

  d. "Proposal" shall mean any bid, quotation, offer or response to a governmental entity's solicitation of submissions relating to a procurement.

  e. "Governmental procurement" shall mean: (i) the public announcement, public notice, or public communication to any potential vendor of a determination of a need for a procurement, which shall include, but not be limited to, the public notification of the specifications, bid documents, request for proposals, or evaluation criteria for a procurement contract, (ii) solicitation for a procurement contract, (iii) evaluation of a procurement contract, (iv) award, approval, denial or disapproval of a procurement contract, or (v) approval or denial of an assignment, amendment (other than amendments that are authorized and payable under the terms of the procurement contract as it was finally awarded or approved by the comptroller, as applicable), renewal or extension of a procurement contract, or any other material change in the procurement contract resulting in a financial benefit to the offerer.

  f. "Restricted period" shall mean the period of time commencing with the earliest posting, on a governmental entity's website, in a newspaper of general circulation, or in the procurement opportunities newsletter in accordance with article four-C of the economic development law of written notice, advertisement or solicitation of a request for proposal, invitation for bids, or solicitation of proposals, or any other method provided for by law or regulation for soliciting a response from offerers intending to result in a procurement contract with a governmental entity and ending with the final contract award and approval by the governmental entity and, where applicable, the state comptroller.

  g. "Procurement contract" shall mean any contract or other agreement, including an amendment, extension, renewal or change order to an existing contract (other than amendments, extensions, renewals, or change orders that are authorized and payable under the terms of the contract as it was finally awarded or approved by the comptroller, as applicable), for an article of procurement involving an estimated annualized expenditure in excess of fifteen thousand dollars. Grants, article eleven-B state finance law contracts, program contracts between not-for-profit organizations, as defined in article eleven-B of this chapter, and the unified court system, intergovernmental agreements, railroad and utility force accounts, utility relocation project agreements or orders, contracts governing organ transplants, contracts allowing for state participation in trade shows, and eminent domain transactions shall not be deemed procurement contracts.

  h. "Offerer" shall mean the individual or entity, or any employee, agent or consultant or person acting on behalf of such individual or entity, that contacts a governmental entity about a governmental procurement during the restricted period of such governmental procurement whether or not the caller has a financial interest in the outcome of the procurement; provided, however, that a governmental agency or its employees that communicates with the procuring agency regarding a governmental procurement in the exercise of its oversight duties shall not be considered an offerer.

  i. "Revenue contract" shall mean any written agreement between a governmental entity, as that term is defined in subparagraphs one, four, five, six or seven of paragraph a of this subdivision, and an offerer whereby the governmental entity gives or grants a concession or a franchise.

  j. "Unified court system" shall, for the purposes of this section only, mean the unified court system of the state of New York, or the office of court administration, where appropriate, other than town and village justice courts in jurisdictions with a population under fifty thousand, when it acts solely in an administrative capacity to engage in governmental procurements and shall not include the unified court system or any court of the state judiciary when it acts to hear and decide cases of original or appellate jurisdiction or otherwise acts in its judicial, as opposed to administrative, capacity.

  2. Every governmental entity that undertakes a governmental procurement shall:

  a. at the same time that a restricted period is imposed, designate, with regard to each governmental procurement, a person or persons who are knowledgeable about the procurement and who may be contacted by offerers relative to the governmental procurement;

  b. make any determinations on any governmental procurement: (1) in a manner consistent with the principles provided for under subdivision two of section one hundred sixty-three of this chapter, or, if the governmental entity is a public benefit corporation, as that term is defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, and the majority of the members consist of persons either appointed by the governor or who serve as members by virtue of holding a civil office of the state, the procurement guidelines adopted pursuant to section twenty-eight hundred seventy-nine of the public authorities law, and (2) free from any conduct that would be prohibited by subdivision five of section seventy-three or section seventy-four of the public officers law, or of other applicable ethics code provisions that are equivalent to subdivision five of section seventy-three or section seventy-four of the public officers law where the public officials that are involved in the governmental procurement are not subject to subdivision five of section seventy-three or section seventy-four of the public officers law;

  3. Each offerer that contacts a governmental entity about a governmental procurement shall only make permissible contacts with respect to the governmental procurement, which shall mean that the offerer:

  a. shall contact only the person or persons who may be contacted by offerers as designated by the governmental entity pursuant to paragraph a of subdivision two of this section relative to the governmental procurement, except that the following contacts are exempted from the provisions of this paragraph and do not need to be directed to a designated contact pursuant to section one hundred thirty-nine-k of this article:

  (1) the submission of written proposals in response to a request for proposals, invitation for bids or any other method for soliciting a response from offerers intending to result in a procurement contract;

  (2) the submission of written questions by a method set forth in a request for proposals, or invitation for bids, or any other method for soliciting a response from offerers intending to result in a procurement contract, when all written questions and responses are to be disseminated to all offerers who have expressed an interest in the request for proposals, or invitation for bids, or any other method for soliciting a response from offerers intending to result in a procurement contract;

  (3) participation in a demonstration, conference or other means for exchange of information in a setting open to all potential bidders provided for in a request for proposals, invitation for bids, or any other method for soliciting a response from offerers intending to result in a procurement contract;

  (4) complaints by an offerer regarding the failure of the person or persons designated by the procuring governmental entity pursuant to this section to respond in a timely manner to authorized offerer contacts made in writing to the office of general counsel of the procuring governmental entity, provided that any such written complaints shall become a part of the procurement record;

  (5) offerers who have been tentatively awarded a contract and are engaged in communications with a governmental entity solely for the purpose of negotiating the terms of the procurement contract after being notified of tentative award;

  (6) contacts between designated governmental entity staff of the procuring governmental entity and an offerer to request the review of a procurement contract award;

  (7) (a) contacts by offerers in protests, appeals or other review proceedings (including the apparent successful bidder or proposer and his or her representatives) before the governmental entity conducting the procurement seeking a final administrative determination, or in a subsequent judicial proceeding; or

  (b) complaints of alleged improper conduct in a governmental procurement to the attorney general, inspector general, district attorney, or court of competent jurisdiction; or

  (c) protests, appeals or complaints to the state comptroller's office during the process of contract approval, where the state comptroller's approval is required, provided that the state comptroller shall make a record of such communications and any response thereto which shall be entered into the procurement record pursuant to section one hundred sixty-three of this chapter; or

  (d) complaints of alleged improper conduct in a governmental procurement conducted by a municipal agency or local legislative body to the state comptroller's office;

  (8) communications between offerers and governmental entities that solely address the determination of responsibility by a governmental entity of an offerer;

  (9) Any communications relating to a governmental procurement made under section one hundred sixty-two of the state finance law undertaken by (i) the non-profit-making agencies appointed pursuant to paragraph e of subdivision six of section one hundred sixty-two of the state finance law by the commissioner of the office of children and family services, the commission for the blind, or the commissioner of education, and (ii) the qualified charitable non-profit-making agencies for the blind, and qualified charitable non-profit-making agencies for other severely disabled persons as identified in subdivision two of section one hundred sixty-two of this chapter; provided, however, that any communications which attempt to influence the issuance or terms of the specifications that serve as the basis for bid documents, requests for proposals, invitations for bids, or solicitations of proposals, or any other method for soliciting a response from offerers intending to result in a procurement contract with a state agency, the state legislature, the unified court system, a municipal agency or local legislative body shall not be exempt from the provisions of this paragraph;

  provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as recognizing or creating any new rights, duties or responsibilities or abrogating any existing rights, duties or responsibilities of any governmental entity as it pertains to implementation and enforcement of article eleven of this chapter or any other provision of law dealing with the governmental procurement process, and that nothing in this subdivision shall be interpreted to limit the authority of a governmental entity involved in a government procurement by exercise of an oversight function from providing information to offerers regarding the status of the review, oversight, or approval of a governmental procurement that has been submitted to or is under review by that governmental entity.

  b. shall not attempt to influence the governmental procurement in a manner that would result in a violation or an attempted violation of subdivision five of section seventy-three or section seventy-four of the public officers law, or of other applicable ethics code provisions that are equivalent to subdivision five of section seventy-three or section seventy-four of the public officers law where the public officials that are involved in the governmental procurement are not subject to subdivision five of section seventy-three or section seventy-four of the public officers law;

  4. Violations of paragraph a of subdivision three of this section shall include any contacts during the restricted period of a governmental procurement between the offerer and any member, officer or employee of any governmental entity other than the entity conducting the governmental procurement; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit an offerer from communicating with a member of the state legislature or legislative staff about a governmental procurement being conducted by a governmental entity other than the state legislature, or a member of the state legislature or legislative staff contacting a governmental entity about a governmental procurement being conducted by a governmental entity other than the state legislature, provided that the member of the state legislature or legislative staff is acting in his or her official capacity.

  5. Governmental entity staff may consult the model guidelines that may be established by the advisory council on procurement lobbying pursuant to section one-t of the legislative law in implementing this section.

  6. a. Every governmental entity shall incorporate a summary of the policy and prohibitions regarding permissible contacts during a governmental procurement pursuant to subdivision three of this section, and copies of rules and regulations and applicable governmental entity guidelines and procedures regarding permissible contacts during a governmental procurement pursuant to subdivision three of this section into their solicitation of proposals or bid documents or specifications for all procurement contracts.

  b. Every governmental entity shall seek written affirmations from all offerers as to the offerer's understanding of and agreement to comply with the governmental entity's procedures relating to permissible contacts during a governmental procurement pursuant to subdivision three of this section. Such a written affirmation by an offerer shall be deemed to apply to any amendments to a procurement submitted by the governmental entity after an initial affirmation is received with an initial bid.

  7. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, prior to conducting an award of a procurement contract, a governmental entity conducting a governmental procurement shall make a final determination of responsibility of the proposed awardee in accordance with paragraph f of subdivision nine of section one hundred sixty-three of this chapter, or, if the governmental entity is a public benefit corporation, as that term is defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, and the majority of the members consist of persons either appointed by the governor or who serve as members by virtue of holding a civil office of the state, according to the procurement guidelines adopted pursuant to subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (b) of subdivision three of section twenty-eight hundred seventy-nine of the public authorities law; provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as abrogating or diminishing any existing rights, duties or responsibilities of any governmental entity as it pertains to determinations of responsibility.

  8. Any member, officer or employee of a governmental entity who becomes aware that an offerer has violated the provisions of subdivision three of this section with regard to permissible contacts during any governmental procurement shall immediately notify the ethics officer, inspector general, if any, or other official of the procuring governmental entity responsible for reviewing or investigating such matters. If an offerer violates the provisions of subdivision three of this section with regard to permissible contacts at a governmental entity other than the governmental entity conducting the governmental procurement, the member, officer or employee who becomes aware of the violation shall notify the ethics officer, inspector general, if any, or other official of the governmental entity responsible for reviewing or investigating such matters where that member, officer or employee works, who shall in turn notify the ethics officer, inspector general, if any, or other official of the procuring governmental entity responsible for reviewing or investigating such matters at the procuring governmental entity.

  9. Every governmental entity shall establish a process for review by its ethics officer, inspector general, if any, or other official responsible for reviewing or investigating any allegations of violations of the provisions of subdivision three of this section with regard to permissible contacts on governmental procurements, and for the imposition of sanctions if such violations have been found to exist.

  10. a. Upon notification of any allegation of a violation of the provisions of subdivision three of this section with regard to permissible contacts on governmental procurements, the governmental entity's ethics officer, inspector general, if any, or other official of the procuring governmental entity responsible for reviewing or investigating such matters shall immediately investigate such allegation and, if sufficient cause exists to believe that such allegation is true, shall give the offerer reasonable notice that an investigation is ongoing and an opportunity to be heard in response to the allegation.

  b. A finding that an offerer has knowingly and willfully violated the provisions of subdivision three of this section shall result in a determination of non-responsibility for such offerer, and such offerer and its subsidiaries, and any related or successor entity with substantially similar function, management, board of directors, officers and shareholders (hereinafter, for the purposes of this paragraph "offerer"), shall not be awarded the procurement contract, unless the governmental entity finds that the award of the procurement contract to the offerer is necessary to protect public property or public health or safety, and that the offerer is the only source capable of supplying the required article of procurement within the necessary timeframe, provided, that the governmental entity shall include in the procurement record a statement describing the basis for such a finding. Any subsequent determination of non-responsibility due to violation of this section within four years of a determination of non-responsibility due to a violation of this section shall result in the offerer being rendered ineligible to submit a proposal on or be awarded any procurement contract for a period of four years from the date of the second final determination. Every governmental entity shall ensure that its solicitations of proposals for procurement contracts require offerers to disclose findings of non-responsibility due to violations of the provisions of subdivision three of this section within the previous four years by any governmental entity. The failure of offerers to timely disclose accurate and complete information or otherwise cooperate with the governmental entity in administering this provision shall be considered by the governmental entity in its determination of responsibility; provided, further, that the governmental entity shall not award a contract to an offerer who fails to timely disclose accurate and complete information or otherwise cooperate with the governmental entity in administering this provision unless the governmental entity finds that the award of the procurement contract to the offerer is necessary to protect public property or public health or safety, and that the offerer is the only source capable of supplying the required article of procurement within the necessary timeframe, provided, that the governmental entity shall include in the procurement record a statement describing the basis for such a finding. Upon a determination of non-responsibility or debarment due to a violation of this section, the governmental entity shall notify the office of general services, which shall keep a list of all offerers who have been determined to be nonresponsible bidders or debarred due to violations of this section; the office of general services shall make publicly available such list and shall publish such list on its web site.

  c. If a violation of the provisions of subdivision three of this section is found to have knowingly and willfully occurred, then the ethics officer or inspector general, if any, or other official of the procuring governmental entity responsible for reviewing or investigating such matters shall report instances of employee violation of the guidelines and procedures regarding implementation of subdivision two of this section to the governmental entity's head.

  11. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prevent: (a) contacts by offerers in protests, appeals or other review proceedings (including the apparent successful bidder or proposer and his or her representatives) before the governmental entity conducting the procurement seeking a final administrative determination, or in a subsequent judicial proceeding; or

  (b) complaints of alleged improper conduct in a governmental procurement to the attorney general, inspector general, district attorney, or court of competent jurisdiction; or

  (c) written protests, appeals or complaints to the state comptroller's office during the process of contract approval, where the state comptroller's approval is required by law, and where such communications and any responses thereto are made in writing and shall be entered in the procurement record pursuant to section one hundred sixty-three of this chapter; or

  (d) complaints of alleged improper conduct in a governmental procurement conducted by a municipal agency or local legislative body to the state comptroller's office;

  provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as recognizing or creating any new rights, duties or responsibilities or abrogating any existing rights, duties or responsibilities of any governmental entity as it pertains to implementation and enforcement of article eleven of this chapter or any other provision of law dealing with the governmental procurement process.

  * NB Repealed July 31, 2021