Wednesday, July 2, 2014

YIMBY and New Mexico procurement

Let's start with the standard disclosure that the views expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

I have a NIMBY post scheduled for tomorrow, so I guess I should counter-balance it with a YIMBY post. If these acronyms puzzle you, NIMBY is an acronym commonly used to represent the phrase "not in my back yard." YIMBY, of course, would be "yes in my back yard," used when you want to encourage a particular activity to take place locally.

Enter the Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI), which functions as a chamber of commerce within the state of New Mexico. Chambers of commerce encourage commerce, and governments purchase things, so it makes sense that the ACI would take an interest in the procurement practices of agencies within the state of New Mexico.

ACI is working to keep businesses, jobs, and opportunities here in New Mexico. Our members have raised concerns that New Mexico companies may not be getting a fair chance to compete for New Mexico tax dollars through the procurement process. If we want to grow as a state and improve the opportunities available to New Mexicans, our state government needs to be looking for opportunities to keep our money here in New Mexico, instead of handing over even more jobs, opportunities, and money to other states.

Of course, there are two potentially contradictory terms in the statement above. One is the request that state procurements be "fair." The other is the request to "keep our money here in New Mexico." Certainly if New Mexico procurement officers had a "we don't want any of this local stuff" attitude, that would be one thing. But how do you define "fair"?

To determine whether New Mexico procurements are actually going to New Mexico companies, ACI has selected three state agencies for its request:

Today, The Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI), New Mexico’s statewide chamber of commerce, submitted requests under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) for records pertaining to contract purchases by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the New Mexico Department of Information Technology, and the New Mexico General Services Department. The records requested will show what percentage of state taxpayer money in these departments is being spent outside of New Mexico, instead of in contracts with in-state businesses to promote local growth.

Now for the second disclosure of this post - my employer happens to do business in the state of New Mexico, although I don't know if any of our contracts came from the three agencies listed. And I don't think that my employer has a New Mexico billing address, so if we did show up, we'd show up as an "out of state" entity (we have more employees outside of New Mexico than we do within New Mexico).

Obviously chambers of commerce in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, and elsewhere would vehemently protest what the ACI is doing - but of course would fully support similar investigations in their own states.

And what the ACI is asking for isn't unreasonable. In the state and local world, I have run across Requests for Proposal (RFPs) that explicitly award higher points to vendors who employ people in particular locality. This is a valid responsibility of government, since it is in a government's interest to increase both business revenue and tax revenue within its own jurisdiction.

Whether it is "fair" or not is another question entirely.

And is it fair that the ACI website features Intel as a "sustaining investor," despite the fact that Intel is headquartered in Santa Clara, California? Isn't that an "out of state" firm? Well, consider what Intel says:

Intel began operations in New Mexico in 1980, with 25 employees on a small piece of land previously used as a sod farm. More than three decades later, Intel is the largest industrial employer in the state, with approximately 3,500 employees at its campus in Rio Rancho. The site is home to Fab 11X, one of Intel’s 300mm semiconductor manufacturing facilities.

So is Intel a New Mexico company, or a California company, or perhaps a Delaware company if Intel is one of the slew of companies that is incorporated in Delaware?

It depends.
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