Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is creating a competitive procurement process for selecting bond counsel, calling the move vital to overhauling state government.

"This process reforms what was an obscure process into one that is efficient, ethical and transparent in securing legal counsel for bond issuances," Wolf said in a statement Wednesday.

According to Wolf, the Office of General Counsel will select bond counsel through an open, competitive procurement process, making the process more transparent than ever before. The move, he said, follows Executive Order 2015-2, which requires competitive bids and the online posting of results for all contracts awarded for legal services or legal consultants.

The procurement will be done in two steps, said Wolf.

The first, now under way, prequalifies a pool of bond counsels through a request for qualifications process, which spells out the minimum qualifications for inclusion. Interested attorneys and firms filed a statement of qualifications with OGC and a committee of representatives from the various commonwealth bond issuing agencies evaluated those statements.

Selected firms were pre-qualified to perform bond counsel services work for the commonwealth and granted a standard contract with costs to be negotiated for any work to be done later. The process has created a pool of 20 qualified firms, a list of which is available on the OGC website.

The second step will begin when a department or OGC demonstrates need for counsel for a bond issuance. Then, a request for proposal will be issued that will establish the statement of work and any additional qualifications needed for the bond issuance.

Firms from the pre-qualified pool will submit proposals outlining staffing needs, work costs and qualifications.

Upon selection by a committee, the procurement process and winning firm will go to the general counsel for approval. Once approved, costs may be further negotiated with the selected firm and OGC would send an engagement letter.

Pennsylvania will launch the process this spring with its $1.15 billion issuance of general obligation bonds. Officials say proceeds will pay off some debt and fund transportation and various capital projects.

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