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Proposed Changes to Local Preference for Government Contracts in Miami-Dade County

Albert E. Dotson, Jr. & Eric Singer

We have in the past discussed how government contracts are not utilized only to acquire goods and services for the public, but to further public-policy objectives. For example, procurement regulations at all levels of government—federal, state, and local—frequently incorporate preferences in the bidding process for certain types of companies, such as small business, local businesses, minority-owned businesses, etc. Regulations of this type are not “one size fits all”—they vary drastically from one jurisdiction to the next, or even one type of contract to the next within the same jurisdiction. In order to be competitive, it is critical that government contractors understand the applicable regulations. In fact, we have been involved in several bid protests challenging contract awards where the core dispute is premised upon a failure to comply with local-preference regulations. 

Miami-Dade County is currently considering a revision to its local-preference regulations. If adopted, the change could be significant, as the ordinance would prioritize local businesses that have certain certifications (certified Small Business Enterprises) over local businesses that do not. As a result, local businesses will need to attempt to obtain the additional certification in order to retain the same competitive advantage that they enjoyed before. The Board of County Commissioners approved the ordinance on “first reading” on January 23, 2019, and it is currently scheduled for a public hearing on February 11 before the Housing, Social Services, and Economic Development Committee. If recommended for approval by the committee, the ordinance will be considered by the full Board of County Commissioners for final approval at “second reading”—most likely in early March.

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