Miami-Dade County Takes P3 Reform Further After Florida Passes New P3 Legislation

by Bilzin Sumberg

After months in several Florida House and Senate committees, the State Legislature finally passed two related bills that were both signed by the Governor at the end of April. Importantly, the first bill, SB 124, establishes uniform processes for public entities to enter into P3 agreements. The second bill, SB 126, creates an exemption for unsolicited P3 proposals under the Public Records Act.

The ideas and policies expounded in these new laws originated from a task force appointed by the Florida legislature. The task force was charged with recommending guidelines to create a uniform P3 process throughout the State.

Miami-Dade County, however, has created its own P3 task force to establish P3-related policies that go beyond State law to better equip South Florida’s burgeoning market. This task force, aptly named the “Miami-Dade County Public Private Partnership Task Force,” has recently recommended a series of procedures to streamline the P3 process in Miami-Dade County from start to finish. Among its suggestions, the task force has recommended a four-phase process for forming P3 projects. The proposed phases are: 1) preparation and planning, 2) project screening, 3) advertisement of a two-step P3 solicitation (RFQ and RFP), and 4) contracting.

This task force has also recommended implementation of a specific P3 “unit” within the Mayor’s office comprising of “lean core county staff.” The anticipated makeup of this unit is several experts in various procurement-related subject matters from select County departments. The task force has also identified members of the community to help with the selection process and work with the Mayor’s P3 unit on a project-by-project basis.

The County’s task force has proposed several updates to the solicitation process itself. First, the task force recommends that all RFQs get approved by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners at the front end, before they can be advertised to the public. Additionally, the corresponding RFP can only be issued to a shortlist of no more than four, but no less than two, qualified proposers. The group also recommends that an RFP timeframe may be extended only at the Mayor’s discretion.

Finally, the task force has advocated for “interim agreements,” a concept that allows a private partner, by agreement with the County, to start project planning while the selection committee simultaneously goes through the motions of eventually making an official recommendation to the Mayor. The Mayor will then have 60 days to accept or reject the selection committee’s recommendation.

Stay tuned for more advances in Miami-Dade County’s P3 policy and procedure.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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