The Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 – §§ 56-575.1 et seq. of the Code of Virginia (the "PPEA") – allows VITA to create public-private partnerships for the development of a wide range of projects for public use if VITA determines the project serves a public purpose and that private involvement may provide the project in a timely or cost-effective fashion. The PPEA allows VITA to develop innovative public-private partnerships with its suppliers through solicited and unsolicited proposals for projects for which VITA determines there is a public need. The PPEA serves as an alternative procurement method for IT in certain circumstances.
The PPEA is designed to bring private funding and/or private risk to public projects in the Commonwealth. The PPEA is intended to provide a faster mechanism for the funding and completion of projects that are time sensitive. Like the Public Private Transportation Act, the PPEA allows for creative financing and allows private entities to bring innovative thinking and vision to public projects.
The PPEA authorizes responsible public entities to use the PPEA procurement process. These entities include state agencies, public educational institutions, counties, cities and town and public authorities.
In order for a project to be eligible under the PPEA, it must meet the definition of a qualifying project. For IT, the PPEA establishes the following as qualifying projects: ". . .(vi) technology infrastructure, services and applications, including, but not limited to, telecommunications, automated data processing, word processing and management information systems, and related information, equipment, goods and services; (vii) any services designed to increase productivity or efficiency through the direct or indirect use of technology, (viii) any technology, equipment, or infrastructure designed to deploy wireless broadband services to schools, businesses, or residential areas. . ." (§ 56-575.1 of the Code of Virginia) The PPEA establishes requirements for the review and approval of proposals received pursuant to the PPEA. In addition, the PPEA specifies the criteria that must be used to select a proposal and the contents of any comprehensive agreement between VITA and the private entity.
Section 56-575.16.2 of the Code of Virginia, provides, in part: "2. A responsible public entity may enter into a comprehensive agreement in accordance with guidelines adopted by it that are consistent with the procurement of "other than professional services" through competitive negotiation as set forth in § 2.2-4302.2 and subsection B of § 2.2-4310. Such responsible public entity shall not be required to select the proposal with the lowest price offer, but may consider price as one factor in evaluating the proposals received. Other factors that may be considered include (i) the proposed cost of the qualifying facility; (ii) the general reputation, industry experience, and financial capacity of the private entity; (iii) the proposed design of the qualifying project; (iv) the eligibility of the facility for accelerated selection, review, and documentation timelines under the responsible public entity's guidelines; (v) local citizen and government comments; (vi) benefits to the public; (vii) the private entity's compliance with a minority business enterprise participation plan or good faith effort to comply with the goals of such plan; (viii) the private entity's plans to employ local contractors and residents; and (ix) other criteria that the responsible public entity deems appropriate."