Pfeiffer: Top Democrat looks to sharply raise no-bid contract limits

A top Senate Democrat has introduced a bill that would sharply raise no-bid thresholds for public contracts issued by school boards and local and county governments.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), would more than double limits on the size of contracts that local and county governments can issue without soliciting bids, raising it from $17,500 to $50,000 for municipalities without a qualified purchasing agent.

The proposal would also allow qualified purchasing agents to award contracts below their respective threshold directly instead of first requiring a vote from the governing body.

The jump from $50,000 is roughly in line with historical increases, though there are concerns, said Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director of Rutgers University’s Bloustein Local Government Research Center.

“That’s keeping track with the history that has made sense and worked,” said Pfeiffer, who has worked in public procurement. “Doubling that and then doubling on that, potentially, because of the size of the entity, to a threshold that is equal to state government at the high end is troubling. It seems excessive and could create some unintended consequences that we can’t think of right now.”

Marc Pfeiffer, the assistant director at the Bloustein Local Government Research Center

News from the, 2/27/2023