Compatibility of New York City Local Law 19 With Federal Highway Act Competitive Bidding Requirements

Headnotes: 

New York City Local Law 19, which allows bidders who do not make the lowest bid to be awarded contracts in cases where the lowest bidder has not signed an anti-apartheid certificate, is incompatible with § 112 of the Federal Aid Highway Act, which requires that contracts for federally funded highway projects be awarded on the basis of competitive bidding. The Department of Transportation is therefore obligated to withhold funding for such contracts awarded subject to Local Law 19.

When Congress elects to distribute federal funds to states it may attach conditions to their distribution and, so long as those conditions are valid and clearly expressed, a state has no sovereign right to obtain or retain those federal funds without complying with the stated conditions. The Act’s conditioning of federal highway construction grants on compliance with competitive bidding requirements is valid and clearly expressed.

By imposing disadvantages on a class o f responsible contract bidders, Local Law 19 discourages responsible contractors from bidding and undermines the competitive bidding process. This departure from competitive bidding procedures was not justified by considerations of costeffectiveness, as required by the Act.

Updated July 9, 2014