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Bill would change procurement rules for public universties, including NIU

DeKALB – State Rep. Mark Batinick has filed a house bill that he said will allow Illinois public universities to save up to $100 million in annual costs. 

House Bill 4215, the Illinois College Procurement Reform Act, would allow public university boards of higher education to develop their own procurement rules. As it is, universities are required to follow regulatory processes outlined in the Illinois Procurement Code. 

The procurement code regulates how universities make purchases of items such as equipment and supplies, and hire firms for construction, architectural and engineering work.

Some of the regulations include a strict approval process and competitive bidding requirements, Batinick said.  

“Every university I have talked to has said this is an issue for them and not a small one,” he said. 

The procurement process is complicated and often requires universities to jump through administrative hoops, Batinick said. The red tape sometimes leaves schools unable to meet deadline requirements necessary to secure grants. 

Northern Illinois University administrative and finance officials declined to comment on House Bill 4215 in particular. 

Paul Palian, NIU director of media and public relations provided a statement on general procurement reform. 

“We are working with legislators and other universities to compromise on language that would give us the flexibility we are looking for in terms of procurement while maintaining accountability,” Palian said.

Palian added that university officials would like to see the process streamlined to conserve time and resources and allow the school to attract the best options for business partners.  

If colleges can save money, they can pass those savings on to students, Batinick said. 

“We’re losing about 16,000 students each year to other states. Studies show those students are less likely to return to the state,” he said. “My focus is bringing the cost of education down and trying to keep our most precious resource – our students – here.” 

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