Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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July 3, 1998


In accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 98-S 2284, "An Act Relating to State Purchase - Architects, Engineers, Consulting and Printing Services."

This legislation would include printing firms among the list of Rhode Island-based businesses which, all things being equal, would be given preference in public contracts.

Under existing law, the list of Rhode Island-based businesses which, all things being equal, receive a preference in state contracts is restricted to certain businesses which provide professional services. The General Assembly has set forth a specific process for the retention of credentialed professionals where expertise and/or licensing is the driving factor in the selection process. Portions of this process, must, necessarily involve subjective considerations. The General Assembly has set forth a different process for the retention of non-professionals based on competitive sealed bidding where specifications can be developed and a contract awarded to the lowest-priced vendor capable of meeting bid specifications. Since bids can be reduced to their lowest common denominator - price - there is little subjective consideration at play.

Printing is a biddable commodity. It is bad public policy to extend the limited preference given to professionals operating under one selection process to biddable commodities operating under another. Moreover, if this law were passed, there would be no principled reason for denying the same preference to every state vendor. Such preferences could do great harm to Rhode Island vendors. Most of our neighbor states do not impose such statutory preferences on non-professionals. To the extent that Rhode Island does so, we invite retaliation which, given Rhode Island's size, could result in a severe disadvantage for Rhode Island-based businesses.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond