PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In what state purchasing officials are describing as an historic victory for taxpayers, Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein today upheld the state’s awarding of a multi-year automobile emissions-testing program, which is projected to save Rhode Island automobile owners some $15 million over the next five years.
“Today’s decision is a victory for Rhode Island taxpayers,” Governor Donald L. Carcieri said. “This decision recognized that the Department of Administration worked diligently – and in a fair and open process – to get the very best deal for the state. I want to thank Brian Stern and his team at the Department of Administration for their hard work on behalf of the people of Rhode Island.”
“We never doubted the outcome, because we never doubted our process” said Brian P. Stern, the state’s purchasing chief. “The ultimate question all along was, ‘does the state have the right to seek the very best deal for taxpayers?’ We absolutely believe so, and Judge Silverstein has come to the same conclusion.”
A lawsuit by Applus Technologies, the incumbent bidder and previous operator of the state’s automobile testing program, sought to bar the state from moving forward with awarding the contract to a competitor, SysTech International, after the contract was put out to bid.
In their arguments before Judge Silverstein, Applus lawyers attempted to portray the state purchasing system as flawed in its handling of the bid review process. In today’s bench decision, Judge Silverstein rejected those claims. Stating that no evidence had been provided by the plaintiff that the state acted in bad faith, Judge Silverstein threw out the lawsuit, which will allow the state and its new contractor to begin working with the service stations that provide emissions testing. The contract with SysTech begins January 1st.
“We put this contract out to bid because wherever appropriate we’re making the necessary changes to run Rhode Island like a business—in this case that means allowing qualified companies to vie for our business like they would in the real world, the arena of fair market competition,” said Stern, who also oversees Governor Carcieri’s Fiscal Fitness program, which is charged with auditing and reducing the cost of executive-branch operations.
“Obviously putting lucrative contracts out to bid in a public forum is not good news for companies hesitant to rolling up their sleeves and sharpening their pencils when doing business with the state. But it is good news for Rhode Islander taxpayers, who, at the end of the day, have to pay the bills”