Over the summer, the Connecticut Legislature lifted the municipal exemption for public works contracts. This is big news for Connecticut and marks a step forward for better business practices in the state.
Having to follow anti-discrimination statutes is nothing new for construction companies in Connecticut. Oversight of the state’s public works contracts has existed for decades now, ever since the first statutes mandating such oversight were passed in 1967. Since then, companies have worked with the Commission to establish clear procedures for complying with the law. Over time, these procedures have been improved on to ensure compliance is easy and cost-effective. Companies doing business with the state now meet these requirements as a routine matter when bidding for a job.
To assist these companies, the Commission has a unit dedicated to oversight of public works contracts. The Affirmative Action/Contract Compliance unit provides regular trainings and seminars on our process free of charge. In addition to the human resources available, the Commission has developed an online library of forms, instructions, and samples for every step of the way. These resources have helped companies to do business with the state quickly and efficiently while meeting their legal obligations.
The new changes the Legislature made over the summer mark an expansion of what the law covers without adding any additional burdens that construction firms have not been familiar with for years. Previously, contracts with municipalities were exempted from having to follow Connecticut’s contract compliance law. This gap in coverage meant that there was nothing to ensure contracts were not awarded based on discrimination. Connecticut “should continue to be a leader in speaking out against discrimination across the entirety of the nation,” Governor Malloy has said. The new laws are aimed at discrimination and the economic waste that discrimination causes.
The Commission has been given resources, new investigators, and new attorneys hired specifically to monitor and enforce municipal public works contracts on state funded projects. Ten new employees have been brought on and are undergoing three to four weeks of training to ensure their proficiency in this area. The training includes in-depth review of our statutes, regulations, forms, and guidance, case studies, hands-on exercises, and testing to ensure they will be able to provide the assistance that Connecticut companies need. For Connecticut businesses, the Commission has stepped up its training schedule to make sure they are aware of their obligations and what they need to do to meet them. Procedures have been put into place to address any business concerns that arise and make sure compliance is as easy as possible, including an overhaul of the Commission’s online resources. As the new law takes effect, the Commission will be able to ensure taxpayer money is not wasted on contractors who have not earned the job while keeping compliance costs to a minimum.