by Shari Bacon, Southeastern Regional Compliance Manager
Many of you have asked me “where do I find the force account limit and bidding threshold,” so I thought it would be helpful to introduce you to the Act. The Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act (the Act) is in the California Public Contract Code (PCC), in Sections 22000-22045. The Act is a voluntary program where public entities can elect to become signatory and opt in to raise their force account limit and bidding threshold to $45,000.Informal bidding procedures can be used on public projects from $45,000 to $175,000. In exchange, the entities must extend their advertising outreach for public projects and follow the required accounting procedures. Currently, 1,040 participating agencies have elected to become signatory to the Act; 221 cities, 40 counties, 432 school districts, 46 community college districts, and 301 special districts. The list of participating agencies is on the California State Controller’s Office (SCO) Web site at http://www.sco.ca.gov/ard_cuccac.html. This number continues to grow as public agencies learn more about the benefits of the Act.
The California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Act Commission (CUCCAC) oversees the Act. A highlight of the Act is the avoidance of litigation. CUCCAC can review the accounting procedures of a public agency when evidence is provided the participating agency performs work, after rejecting all bids, claiming it can do it at less expense; the work performed exceeds their force account limit; or the work has been improperly classified as maintenance. CIFAC is a major source of complaints brought before CUCCAC and what leads to those investigations is you, our network. As a reminder, we always keep the names of our reporting parties anonymous.
The very first step in any investigation as a CIFAC Regional Compliance Manager, is determining what are the agency’s limits? I always refer to the Act’s list of participating agencies to see if the agency in question has opted in. If the public agency is signatory, then the Act’s limits and rules will supersede any existing bidding procedures. If the Act is silent on a particular matter, than the rest of the PCC would apply.
If you were to open up the PCC to Sections 22000-22045 and see all of the text regarding the Act, it may seem a bit overwhelming. The best place to start in learning more about the Act is on the SCO Web site link under the Frequently Asked Questions. The FAQ’s provide a simple introduction and a very informative outline to the rules of the Act. What I find surprising, and you may too, is there are actually several charter cities that also belong to the Act. So, no matter what the entity, always check the participating agencies list to determine their limits. If the public agency is not on the list, then refer to the applicable PCC section or another related code for that type of entity. Also, you can call upon your local CIFAC Regional Compliance Manager for this information and we can get the investigation started.