Across America, local units of government are adopting responsible contracting policies. Localities as diverse as Seattle, Washington and Portage, Indiana have included provisions to encourage contractors to use taxpayer dollars responsibly. The goal of the provisions is to balance the interests of business, labor, and taxpayers in a manner that creates broad-based prosperity and increases taxpayer value.

Responsible bidder ordinances (RBOs) are a kind of “insurance policy” for taxpayers. The local ordinances establish clear, objective standards that contractors must meet in order to win bids and construct projects funded using taxpayer dollars. The policies typically include common-sense items such as:

  • Proof of required licenses;
  • Certified payroll records to ensure that contractors only employ individuals who are eligible to work in the United States;
  • Evidence of participation in certified training programs so that the workers are high-skilled, safe, and able to build quality schools, roads, parks, sewage systems, and public transit systems.

By mandating that local units of government accept the lowest responsible and responsive bidder, RBOs ensure that public works projects are completed efficiently, safely, on-time, and within budget– without the need for additional re-construction later on. All of these benefits accrue at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

RBOs also increase the likelihood that local contractors will win bids and local craftsmen will be employed on the job. By instituting local standards, RBOs prevent giving taxpayer dollars to cut-rate contractors racing to the bottom with wages, committing payroll fraud, or hiring less-trained workers. RBOs attract local contractors who care about their communities.

With an RBO, taxpayers can be assured of safe, professional, and highly-skilled craftsmanship on every project– typically by local contractors who care about their communities. RBOs are a high-road economic development tool.