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Photo: Emily Metcalf

BY JIM DOOLEY – The state’s plan to fast-track $500 million in repair and maintenance projects cleared a key hurdle this morning when it was approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

money
Photo: Emily Metcalf

The measure, SB2012, is meant to expedite the award of “shovel-ready” projects at schools, parks, state hospitals and other facilities.

If approved by lawmakers and the governor, it would take effect July 1 and is intended to prime the local economy by putting many idle construction workers back to work.

The hearing was crowded with construction workers who support passage of the legislation.

The bill redefines “small purchase” government jobs from the current threshold of $250,000 up to $1 million.

For contracts under the new $1 million limit, the bill would allow the state to use less restrictive and time-consuming contracting procedures and would eliminate formal protests by losing candidates for the work.

Governor Neil Abercrombie has supported greater state spending on capital improvement projects.

The measure passed the Ways and Means Committee unanimously, although lone Republican Sen. Sam Slom said his support came “with reservations” about the final wording of the bill.

Aaron Fujioka, head of the State Procurement Office, warned the committee that government contracting is “a very complicated and complex process.”

The procurement part of the process – selecting and awarding a contractor “is only one part of the equation,” Fujioka said.

His office produced a report last year which found that a typical state capital improvements project has a life span of 20 to 40 months.

The procurement portion of the contracting process consumed “three to six months,” of which 60 days was set aside for preparation and submission of bids, said Fujioka.

“There are lots and lots of laws and lots of requirements,” he said.

Fujioka said the state operates an electronic procurement system which can be utilized to expedite contracting. Potential bidders who have pre-registered with the state are automatically when jobs become available, he said.

At present, there are 800 companies registered in the construction category of state jobs, according to Fujioka.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com