Legislative Update - August 2019
ACEC Legislative Update

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A Message from the President

In the past few months, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has initiated changes to the regulatory and business climate in which ACEC New York firms operate. In March, MTA imposed a unilateral, non-negotiable 10% fee reduction demand on professional service firms. In June, the MTA issued overreaching and disproportionate debarment regulations. These have been dangerous and unwelcome developments that threaten our firms’ sustainability and the livelihoods of their employees. Paradoxically, these moves impede the ability of MTA to effectively provide the transportation millions of New Yorkers expect. Responding to these threats is of the utmost importance, and our efforts will remain unabated until our members can work in a fair, just and reasonable business environment. Our priorities are to advance a legal and business relationship with the MTA where contractual obligations are upheld, where all parties’ reasonable financial expectations are respected, and where corrective actions are reasonable, proportional, fair and predictable.

In responding to both of these threats, our efforts are guided by three important considerations. First and foremost is ACEC New York’s duty to protect the business interests of the consulting engineering and design industry. This is the core mission of ACEC New York, which underlies every decision and effort we make. Our efforts are shaped by our status as a trade association representing the interests of competing businesses. We can forcefully advocate in a number of ways that advance the industry’s priorities. Second, Federal antitrust law makes clear that we must not encourage or facilitate concerted joint activity by our member firms, including suggesting an industry-wide response. Third, our response relies on understanding that the MTA is an important client with a long historical relationship with our member firms. The 10% reduction and the debarment regulation are misguided steps down a path away from the harmonious and effective relationship that serves the transit-riding population and the taxpayers of the State. We are hopeful that the MTA will recognize the advantages of a collaborative approach that addresses these issues with the goal of a more productive and mutually beneficial solution.  

To date, our efforts on your behalf have engaged parties on the local, State and Federal levels, as well as allied private entities. We have held multiple meetings with key legislative leaders, including those in the Senate and Assembly and the Transportation and Corporations committees explaining how these actions run counter to State public policy and seeking their assistance in making this case. We have met with members of Congress representing the MTA service area who wrote letters explaining the legal and ethical defects of these approaches. Our coordination with ACEC National, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration have led to a clearer understanding of the way these actions violate Federal procurement laws and helped identify the steps we can take to remedy this affront. Our efforts are part of a larger effort by all relevant stakeholders and are not restricted to those listed above. As these issues progress, we are evaluating every available option and will exercise every tool at our disposal to protect our members’ interests.

We will continue to keep our members informed as to the latest developments on these issues, as well as our ongoing actions to support the wellbeing of our member firms. ACEC New York is proud to represent the business of engineering, and we will do everything in our power to guarantee best business practices for our industry.