The D.C. City Council's government operations committee approved two bills yesterday that would establish a uniform procurement system for the city and require government agencies to pay their bills promptly or pay an interest penalty.
Both bills, directed at what council members see as inefficient purchasing practices, will be sent to the full council for consideration.
The procurement practices bill, first introduced by council member William Spaulding (D-Ward 5) in 1983, addresses such problems as overstocking goods, inaccurate and incomplete information on purchases, and overpayment for some goods and services.
The bill would allow the mayor to transfer purchase authority to the Department of Administrative Services; in addition, it would require the mayor to develop a comprehensive computer information system for tracking purchases. The bill also would create a contract information hotline to inform prospective contractors and vendors of goods and services needed by the government.
The second bill, sponsored by council members Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) and Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), would require the mayor to issues rules forcing agencies to pay bills on the due date, or 30 days after receiving an invoice if the contract does not specify a date. The bill also would require agencies to pay within seven to 10 days after the delivery of meats and perishable agricultural products.
The bill is directed at the city's failure to pay vendors on time and would require the District to pay businesses an interest penalty if the new rules are not followed.
The government operations committee report noted that in 1981, only 28 percent of the District's bills were paid within 30 days. If the proposed bill had been adopted then, the report estimated, the city "would have expended $4 million in interest penalties during the period October 1, 1983 through March 31, 1984."