California government is big, and it buys a lot of things. Actually, in government-lingo it is called ‘procurement’ and I wonder if many FR readers know that there is an entire department (the Department of General Services) that is responsible for spending vast amounts of taxpayer dollars on items ranging from batteries to tires, from signs to floor tiles, from fencing to fertilizer. If you think about it, every computer used by a state employee and every car owned by the state had to be purchased. (You can see a big list of the kinds of things purchased by your state government here).
To be honest with you, I had never heard of the Department of General Services until I was recently talking to an FR friend who told me about an interesting situation… Just think, for your home you might spend a few hundred dollars for bedding. Now, pretend you are the State of California, where you have to buy bedding for tens of thousands of beds (just thing of all of the inmates in our state prisons). When you start to multiply that out — it is big business, and big bucks.
Well, right now the state is in the midst of reviewing bids for millions of dollars in…bedding! As a matter of fact, there are two companies competing to provide pillow cases and bed sheets for your government. Care to guess the ballpark of the bids? Well, based on what I heard, we’re talking close to four MILLION over a two year period — that’s a LOT of bedding! Fortunately there are two companies bidding, which means that the free-market system helps to keep pricing competitive, which is good news for California taxpayers. That said, in this instance, as I have found out, you really have ended up with two bids that are within 2% of one another. It gets a tad technical, with two parts to the bid, and such. But that’s the bottom line.
That said, and the reason why I am really even bringing any of this to your attention is simply this — one of companies bidding on this work, American Textile Systems, is from Cerritos, in Los Angeles County. The other company, Tabb Textiles, is located in Opelika, Alabama. Now as a good libertarian, I am all about getting the best possible deal for the dollar where our tax monies our concerned. But once you start to get into very marginal differences, I think that it is fair to prioritize giving state business to CALIFORNIA companies! (By the way, when you total up the bids, including a trip through the complex formula for crediting this and that, it’s actually the California firm that is the (slightly) lower overall low bidder.)
For two years, when I was Executive Director of the California Republican Party, we instituted a policy for all of the vendors that were going to be providing services for our GOP "Victory Plan" (television advertisements, printing of mailings and collateral materials, etcetera) that all of our business would be awarded to California companies. Of course, we felt that there were enough vendors in the state to ensure competitive prices.
That said, I could come up with a few reasons for California government to be awarding contracts to Golden State businesses. But primary among them would be that this means that more jobs and profits are created in our own state’s economy. Needless to say, from a state income perspective, those new employees will then be paying taxes into the state’s coffers.
I asked my friend for a little more detail on the California company in this bid. It turns out they are a relatively small company that employs around 20 people right now. I guess they figure that in order to manage this (rather large) project, they might be able to increase the size of their company by around 20% — pretty big numbers for them.
Well, I guess in the end, as this is a function of an Executive Branch agency of State Government, it will be Governor Schwarzenegger who is ultimately responsible for this, and countless other contract decisions. And while it isn’t realistic to think that the Governator is spending his days chomping on a cigar in the smoking tent outside of his office while reviewing massive stacks of contracts, he is responsible for setting broader directives such as favoring a California company wherever practical…
As a matter of fact, just yesterday, the Governor announced the appointment of a new Director for the General Services Agency (ironically a Republican named Bush) — perhaps in his ‘new hire orientation’ the Governor should coach him on the importance, whenever reasonable, of creating California jobs…
Oh yeah, among numerous other existing contracts, this same company in Cerritos that is bidding to supply pillow cases and bed sheets… already supplies the blankets (like 60,000+ a year)! I think that, all costs being relatively equal, it would be nice if all of an inmate’s bedding said "Made in California" — don’t you?
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