Sunday, September 30, 2012

Construction Bonding Summit

Construction Bonding Summit:  Preconference Workshop to the APWA Washington Chapter 2012 Fall Conference

When:  Tuesday, October 9, 2012 (8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.)

Where:  Spokane, Washington (Davenport Hotel)

Cost: $75

Mike Purdy & Scott McGilvray

Roundtable Discussion / Q&A:
  • Mike Purdy (Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC)
  • Scott McGilvray (Parker, Smith & Feek, Inc.)
  • Vince Campanelli (Lydig Construction)
  • Gary Laakso (CDM Smith Constructors, Inc.)
  • Ray Steiger (City of Kirkland)
  • Doug Jacobson (City of Renton)
Topics Covered: Here's an outline of what I'll be speaking on, focusing on latest developments and how various types of bonds function in the procurement and contracting process:
  • How Do Bonds Work?
  • Bonds vs. Insurance
  • Bond Forms
  • Bid Bonds
  • Payment Bonds
  • Performance Bonds
  • Retainage Bonds
  • Warranty Bonds
  • Contractor Registration Bond
Sponsored by:  
Information and Registration: For more information, click here. To register, click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Job Opening: Senior Procurement Analyst

Multnomah County, Oregon
  • Position:  Senior Procurement Analyst
  • Location:  Portland, Oregon
  • Closing Date:  Friday, October 12, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time
  • Salary:  $54,517.68 to $67,045.68 annually
  • Job Summary:  The Senior Procurement Analyst position provides Countywide client support, direction, solicitation review and interpretation of County policies for Departments conducting intermediate procurements (generally $150,000 and under), and is responsible for conducting formal County procurements (generally over $150,000), working in close partnership with Departmental purchasing and program staff.  The position consults with Department staff and management to identify optimal procurement strategies based on careful analysis of situational needs, data and interpretation of the County's purchasing rules, procedures and policies.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.  
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Jersey Bid Rigging and Kickbacks Scandal

An engineer representing three school districts in New Jersey is serving three years in state prison for his role in a bid rigging and kickback scheme.  

Bid rigging, inflated bids, and kickbacks:  Kenneth Disko conspired with a contractor to rig the construction bidding process.  He convinced contractor John Sangiuliano of Metropolitan Metal Window Company to submit high bids in the name of other contractors, making his bid appear low.  At Disko's direction, Metropolitan's bids were also inflated over the reasonable cost of the repair work - all in exchange for at least $36,000 in kickbacks that Disko received in 2009 and 2010.  He also received more than $44,000 in kickbacks between 2001 and 2004.

Contractor sentenced:  Contractor Sangiuliano was sentenced on September 13, 2012 to one year of probation, ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution to two of the school districts, and a $25,000 penalty to a state fund for anti-trust enforcement efforts.  He was also barred from any public contracts in New Jersey for five years.  Two other contractors and the former business administrator for one of the school districts were also caught in the web of the bid rigging scandal and have been sentenced to a combination of probation, penalties, and debarment.

More information:  For more information, click here to read the September 13, 2012 press release from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

Lessons learned:  Clear bidding procedures, and internal checks and balances are critical for the integrity of the public bidding process.  Public agencies with a decentralized model of procurement and no oversight are at higher at risk for ethical lapses and abuses.

Facts Disputed:  On September 28, 2012, after I posted the blog entry above, I received a phone call from a woman identifying herself as the wife of one of the parties involved in this case.  She commented that the facts were not correct as reported in the press release from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (on which I based the information included in this blog posting), that there were two sides to the story, and that her husband was the victim of over jealous prosecution by the State.  When I asked for more information that would shed light on what really happened from her perspective, she indicated that she was unable to disclose such information. This update was posted on September 29, 2012. 

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

National Procurement Institute's Annual Conference

The National Procurement Institute, an association of government purchasing professionals, will hold their 44th annual conference this fall.

When:  October 21-24, 2012

Where:  Houston, Texas (Westin Galleria)

Workshops Include:
  • Generate Novel Ideas Against Sourcing Challenges (Dan Coleman)
  • Ignite Your Negotiation Performance (Dan Coleman)
  • The Vendor Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks (Brody Valerga)
  • The Transition: Centralizing a Decentralized Procurement Function (Diane Palmer-Boeck)
  • Adoption of Best Value Procurement Method (Brody Valerga)
  • Cornerstones of Excellence in Public Procurement (Wayne Casper)
  • The Trends and Pathways: What's the Direction of Procurement for Cities and Counties? (Tammy Rimes)
More Information:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, September 24, 2012

Free - Washington Small Business Fair

A consortium of various public agencies, nonprofit business support organizations, and educational institutions are joining together to offer free training to small businesses on what it takes to run a business.

If you're a public agency, take note of how you might want to structure your own small business training event.  If you're a small business consider attending. 

When:  Saturday, September 29, 2012 (8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

Where:  Renton Technical College (3000 NE 4th Street, Renton, WA)

1 hour classes include the following: 

Getting Started/Planning
  • Developing a Business Plan
  • Focus on Exports for Washington Businesses
  • Business Trends for the Post Recession Recovery
  • Starting a Business
  • Which Business Entity is Best for You?
Sales & Marketing
  • Benefits of Networking
  • Build and Market Your Service Business - Sell the Intangible
  • How to Get Government Contracts
  • Marketing Tips and Advice
  • Public Relations - How to Get Noticed
  • Slay the Social Media Dragon
  • Drive Traffic to Your Website
  • Do It Yourself Web Site
  • Facebook 101
  • Keys to Create a Business Boosting Website
  • Customers as Your Vital Sales Force
  • Financing Options
  • Beyond Start-Up: Avoiding Four Fatal Errors
  • Boost Your Profits and Improve the Bottom Line
  • Find Cash for Your Business
  • How to Get the Most Out of Quickbooks
  • Shaking the Money Tree:  Improve Your Loan Application
  • Starting a Business (Financial Planning)
  • Understand Cash Flow and Profit Improvement
Regulatory:  Taxes/Licensing:
  • How to Use Intellectual Property to Grow Your Small Business
  • Starting a Business:  Licensing and Registration
  • Taxes and the Small Business Owner
  • Tips for Keeping Your Business Out of Tax Trouble
  • What About that Darn Business & Occupation Tax?
  • What About that Darn Sales Tax?
Tips for Success/Avoiding Trouble Spots:
  • Business Law Essentials
  • How to Hire the Right Person
  • Small Business Ownership: Tips for Success
More Information:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Sunday, September 23, 2012

USDOT Issues New Proposed Rule on DBE Programs

Matthew DeVries
On September 6, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes three categories of changes to DOT's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) rule.

Tennessee construction attorney Matthew DeVries has written a helpful blog entry with the details of this proposed change.  Click here to read his blog post on the subject.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Job Opening: Contract Compliance Officer

Pierce County (Washington)
  • Position:  Contract Compliance Officer (Public Works and Utilities)
  • Closing Date:  Friday, September 28, 2012 (4:30 p.m.)
  • Salary:  $29.49 to $37.48 per hour
  • Job Summary: Responsible for monitoring nondiscrimination policies, prevailing wage and affirmative action programs for all contracts, subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers who have construction contractual agreements with the County.  Monitor state and federal fair labor standards requirements.  Participate in development of bid specifications in relation to contract compliance, evaluation of progress.  Assist in the development of ordinances, policies, and administrative procedures related to the implementation of a contract compliance program.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.  
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Free Bonding Education Program for Contractors

Free Bonding Education Program is designed to help small contractors develop the capacity to be able to obtain required bonds on government contracts.

Program Agenda and Dates:  (6 Thursday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - dinner provided)
  • Program Kick-Off (October 4, 2012)
  • Business Planning and Management for Construction (October 11, 2012
  • Banking and Financing for Contractors; Project Management and Field Operations (October 18, 2012)
  • Bonding & Insurance for New and Emerging Contractors; Claims and Dispute Resolution (October 25, 2012)
  • Marketing, Estimating, and Bidding; Construction Accounting & Financial Management (November 1, 2012)
  • Managing Growth (November 8, 2012)
Where:  Portland, Oregon (OAME Center, 4134 N. Vancouver Ave)

Cost:  Free

Sponsored by:
  • Surety & Fidelity Association of America
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Northwest Small Business Transportation Resource Center
Information and Registration:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Agency Seeks Outside Legal Advice on Ethics Flap

Tay Yoshitani
Commissioners for the Port of Seattle voted on September 11, 2012 to hire an outside attorney to investigate whether Port CEO Tay Yoshitani's decision to join the board of Expeditors International in addition to his Port job constitutes a conflict of interest.

Since the decision was announced that he would join the board, there has been a significant amount of concern and opposition expressed about a conflict or appearance of a conflict of interest.

The outside attorney will report back to the Port Commission by October 23, 2012.

More Information:

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, September 17, 2012

Encouraging the Use of Small and Local Businesses

Doing business with the government can be complex.  It can be especially daunting for small businesses to sort through the requirements and regulations, all of which differ depending on the specific public agency involved.  

Business Opportunity Events:  Some public agencies have taken proactive steps to make their processes more transparent and clear, and to encourage the use of small and local businesses.  One strategy that some agencies have used is to team with other local agencies in sponsoring business opportunity events.  At these events, the business community is invited to come and talk with multiple agencies about their bidding processes, upcoming opportunities, and to establish relationships.  Sometimes, these events also include a more formal educational component.

One example:  The City of Bellingham and the Port of Bellingham (Washington) recently co-sponsored a free business forum for consultants, contractors, and vendors on how to do business with about ten government agencies. At the event on September 12, 2012, I spoke to about 40 attendees on "Doing Business with the Government: What You Need to Know."

Outline of speech:  Here's an outline of what I talked about:
  • Types of Public Contracts and Solicitations
  • Find Government Opportunities
  • Read the Solicitation Document
  • How Are Award Decisions Made?
  • How Are Proposals Evaluated?
  • Why Do Bids Get Thrown Out?
  • Keys to Developing a Good Proposal
  • Read Your Contract Before You Sign It
  • Manage Your Contract's Fine Print
  • Prevent Payment Disputes
If you would like a copy of my PowerPoint presentation, please contact me.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Sunday, September 16, 2012

At What Limit Should Agencies Be Required to Obtain Competitive Bids?

Competitive bidding exists to:
  • Ensure a public agency gets the lowest price
  • Protect contractors from agency favoritism in the award of contracts
Cost of competitive bidding:  But competitive bidding, especially for smaller public works construction projects, is expensive and time-consuming for public agencies, and the required process may at times outweigh the public benefits.  At what dollar amount does it make more sense to not require competitive bidding?  Public agencies answer this question differently. 

Competitive bidding thresholds:  Some agencies have established dollar thresholds below which competitive bidding is not required.  For example:
  • Ohio increases no-bid threshold:  Beginning on September 28, 2012, the competitive bidding threshold for construction contracts in Ohio will double, from $25,000 to $50,000.  Local agencies may require formal bidding for an amount less than $50,000, but anything over $50,000 will require competitive bidding.  Click here for more details of Ohio's new law.
  • On-Call public works contracts:  Some public agencies competitively bid for on-call  construction contracts, sometimes referred to as IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity) or Job Order Contracting.  Under this broad type of contracting, a contractor is selected based on unit prices that have been competitively bid.  When a specific project need arises, the agency and contractor negotiate a lump sum amount for the project based on the unit prices bid.  This can be a very efficient and expedient process for completing work. Some public agencies may not be authorized under their state law to use this contracting method, or may be required to competitively bid all public works construction projects, regardless of cost.
Balance is required:  In establishing competitive bidding thresholds, lawmakers and policy makers must balance a number of potentially conflicting objectives:
  • Efficiency in contracting
  • Having work performed to meet deadlines
  • Obtaining the lowest price (or a reasonable price)
  • Developing bidding documents with detailed plans and specifications
  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Preventing favoritism and spreading contracting opportunities to many contractors
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Free Training: Prevailing Wages and Bidding Requirements

Awarding Agency Training:  
  • Two separate trainings will be offered at each location: Basic and Advanced.  
  • Competitive bidding requirements
  • Prevailing wages
  • Common public works contracting pitfalls and ways to avoid them
  • Workshop designed for city, county, and state employees that work with public works contracts
Sponsored and Taught by:
  • Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
  • Washington State Auditor's Office
When and Where:  All classes are from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • September 28, 2012 (Tumwater)
  • October 4, 2012 (Online Webinar)
  • October 10, 2012 (Online Webinar)
  • October 16, 2012 (Yakima)
  • October 17, 2012 (Moses Lake)
  • October 18, 2012 (Spokane Valley)
  • November 5,2012 (Everett)
  • November 6, 2012 (Tukwila)
  • November 8, 2012 (Tukwila)
Basic Training Information and Registration:  Click here.
When and Where:  All classes are from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • September 28, 2012 (Tumwater)
  • October 4, 2012 (Online Webinar)
  • October 10, 2012 (Online Webinar)
  • October 16, 2012 (Yakima)
  • October 17, 2012 (Moses Lake)
  • October 18, 2012 (Spokane Valley)
  • November 5,2012 (Everett)
  • November 6, 2012 (Tukwila)
  • November 8, 2012 (Tukwila)
Advanced Training Information and Registration: Click here.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guilty Plea in $3.7 Million Federal Kickback Scheme

On September 7, 2012, a former federal employee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks from companies competing for reconstruction work in Iraq.  

Information and invoices:  In exchange for the money, the former employee used his position to "manipulate and influence the bidding, selection, award, and administration" of the contracts.  He supplied the firms with confidential information, modified invoices, and took kickbacks.   In one email to a contractor, he wrote:
"Attached is your price and my price is $40,000.  I'll take half when you sign the contract and the other half when you sign the first invoice."
Faces jail and fines:  Sentencing will be on January 8, 2013 and the former employee faces up to 35 years in prision and $750,000 in fines.

Additional information:
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Risks of Not Checking for Federal Debarment and Suspension

Federal funding comes with strings.  One of the most commonly overlooked federal requirements is that state and local agencies must check that a contractor, consultant, or vendor is not debarred or suspended by the federal government - before entering into a contract.  The requirement applies for any contract of $25,000 or more.

Risks of not checking status:  There are three primary risks associated with contracting with a firm that is debarred or suspended from working on federally funded projects:
  • Audit findings:  State, local, or federal funding sources may issue an audit finding for failure to check whether firms an agency contracts with have been debarred or suspended.  The City of Olympia (WA) and the Spokane (WA) Regional Health District were recently the subjects of audit findings  issued by the Washington State Auditor's Office for failure to check the debarment status of vendors, contractors, and subrecipients. Click here to read the Olympia audit finding.  Click here to read the Spokane audit finding.
  • Loss of funding:  Failure to check for debarment or suspension status may result in the federal funding agency either not reimbursing an agency or requiring the agency pay back grant funds for having violated the requirements.
  • Performance issues:  Firms get on the debarment or suspension list for having violated federal requirements.  There is a higher risk, depending on what provisions the firm violated, of performance related problems on the contract.
Have internal controls in place:  Public agencies should have processes in place to:
  • Identify what procurements are funded in whole or in part with federal funds
  • Ensure that the federal online database is checked prior to award
  • Maintain documentation in the file that the debarment status has been checked
How to check status:  The federal government is in transition now between two online systems.  For many years, the online checks could be performed at  Recently, they launched, which has experienced some operational problems, and sometimes is still operational.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ethics: When Being Right May Be Wrong

I recently posted a blog entitled When Does a Side Job Become a Conflict with a Government Job? about the mounting controversy surrounding Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani's recent appointment to a side job to the board of directors of Expeditors, a private logistics company.

Port's response to legislative complaints:  A dozen or so Washington State legislators have complained that Yoshitani's new role creates at least the appearance of a conflict of interest with his official duties at the Port.  The Port responded to the legislators by asserting there was no problem because the Port's attorney determined there was no conflict or apparent conflict of interest for Yoshitani to serve in both roles.  The Port's letter went on to state that Yoshitani was permitted to serve on such boards in accordance with his employment contract with the Port.

Appearance of conflict of interest? - No: The Port's code of ethics notes that "Port employees should avoid situations that could appear to be a conflict of interest."  According to the Port's letter back to the legislators, the Port's attorney determined that the "CEO's participation would not create or appear to create a conflict of interest..."  The Port's attorney, Yoshitani, and some members of the Port Commission are all asserting there is no appearance of a conflict of interest.

Appearance of conflict of interest? - Yes:  However, legislators, citizens, and the media have all raised questions about Yoshitani's new role, noting that it appears to be a conflict of interest.  While the Port may be correct that there is no actual conflict of interest, certainly the appearance of a conflict of interest is present.  Perceptions and appearances are often more important than reality. 

CEO's employment contract:  According to the Port's response to legislators, Yoshitani is permitted by his contract with the Port to serve as a member of a board of directors for a private entity if the Port's attorneys determine there is no conflict or appearance of a conflict of interest and such participation is not "contrary to any other provision of the Port's Code of Ethics for Employees."

Who is right?  Yoshitani may be right that his contract enables him to serve as a director for an outside company.  He may be right that such participation does not actually create a conflict of interest.  But the conditions of his service on the outside board all hinges on whether it creates an appearance of a conflict of interest - which is the subject of the controversy.  Appearances of conflicts don't necessarily relate to facts, but to perceptions.  The fact is that many have noted there is, at a minimum, the appearance of a conflict of interest.  

The bottom line:  According to Yoshitani's employment contract and the Port's ethics policy, if there is the appearance of a conflict of interest, Yoshitani should not be permitted to serve on the outside board of directors.

Importance of public confidence:  Government should be transparent, and the Port's response has not sufficiently dealt with the appearance of a conflict of interest.  Public officials have an obligation to monitor their actions so as to increase the public's confidence in government.  As Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton noted: "We have to stop doing things that harm public trust in government."

Additional resources:
  • New York's Moonlighting Lawmakers, September 6, 2012 New York Times Op-Ed that points out prohibition of Members of Congress of earning outside income above 15% of their yearly Congressional salaries and from serving as officers or board members for compensation.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Job Opening: Purchasing Assistant

Snohomish County (Washington)
  • Position:  Purchasing Assistant
  • Location:  Everett, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Tuesday, September 11, 2012 (4:00 p.m. Pacific Time)
  • Salary:  $37,609.56 to $45,738.12 annually
  • Job Summary:  Provides clerical support for division and department related to bid and contract documents.  Assists with proprietary and emergency purchase documentation.  Maintains contract/change order approval database.  Analyzes and resolves a variety of problems (technical, communication with bidders, distribution of bidding documents.  Assists other departments with administrative and procurement related matters.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.  
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Forum on Purchasing Card Program

4th Annual Washington State Purchasing Card Program Forum

When:  September 17, 2012 (8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Where:    Olympia, Washington (1500 Jefferson Street SW, 1st Floor Presentation Room)

Sponsored by:  Washington Department of Enterprise Services (DES).  For more information about DES' Purchasing Card program, click here.

  • Purchasing Card Progress Summary (U.S. Bank)
  • Program Contract Updates (DES)
  • Payment Analytics - automated card program monitoring (U.S. Bank)
  • Card Program Optimization Analysis (U.S. Bank)
  • Card Industry Updates (VISA)
  • Access Online Updates Q&A (U.S. Bank)
Information and Registration:  Click here.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When Does Bidder Responsibility Become an Issue of Bid Responsiveness?

While responsibility always relates to the bidder, and responsiveness relates to the bid, public agencies that require documentation of bidder responsibility be submitted with the bid unnecessarily complicate the bidding process.

3 Problems:  There are three problems associated with requiring that bidder responsibility documentation be submitted with the bid:
  • Non-Responsive bids:  If a bidder fails to submit the bidder responsibility documentation with the bid, the bid would be considered non-responsive.  Thus, the bidder's qualifications or responsibility would never even be evaluated because the bid would be non-responsive.
  • Required of all bidders:  Requiring that bidder responsibility documentation be submitted with the bid requires all bidders, not just the low bidder, to assemble and submit the documentation.  This is a lot of work for bidders, especially since the agency will only evaluate the responsibility documentation for the low bidder.
  • Reduces focus on developing a good bid price:  Public agencies should limit what must be submitted with the bid.  It is in the public agency's best interests to simplify the bidding process so that bidders can focus in the last frantic minutes before the bid deadline on submitting a competitive bid price, and not having to remember to submit additional extraneous materials.
What should be submitted with the bid?   I think it's best to limit what is required to be submitted with the bid to the Bid Form, a Bid Guaranty, and anything else legally required to be submitted.  I have talked with many public agencies who require a significant number of other items to be submitted with the bid.  Many of these items are not required by the terms of a grant of agency regulations, but are more a matter of practice, and can just as easily be submitted after the bid deadline by the low bidder. 

What are the risks?  The more items that must be submitted with the bid, the higher the risk there is for a public agency of non-responsive bids and/or bid  protests, both of which may delay the project schedule and/or cost the agency additional money in the form of a higher bid price or costs to defend a bid protest.

When bidder responsibility becomes responsiveness:  Bidder responsibility requirements become an issue of bid responsiveness when the low bidder fails to submit required responsibility documentation with the bid.

Evaluate:  Evaluate your agency's practices and what you require to be submitted with the bid.  Are there ways to limit these submittals?
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baltimore Procurement Cards Plagued by Questionable Expenses

The Baltimore Sun recently released a scathing article questioning a large portion of the half million dollars charged to city schools credit cards. The cards, which the school district calls procurement cards, have been used to pay for:
  • Expensive retreats for agency staff (up to $450/person)
  • Roughly $67,000 in administrators' travel expenses (in spite of a policy against using the cards for travel)
  • Dinners sometimes topping $100/person (including a student leadership conference dinner at a Hooters)
  • $13,600 in catering for the district's central office
Officials defend charges:  The school district has taken some steps, such as launching an investigation into a few of the charges and beginning work on an overhaul of card use guidelines. 

However, the district CEO and other officials staunchly defend many of the expenses as key to the district's mission. For instance, they describe travel as important to professional development and the district's national reputation, expensive dinners as a vital setting for working out deals and contracts, and pricey catering as encouraging office "fellowshipping."

Policies and public perception:  While some of charges may indeed be viewed as a gray area (when do travel expenses for training and conferences become excessive, for example), many reveal a lack of clear, well-enforced policies. At a minimum, the issues being covered by the press reveal card users who appear to be out of touch with public perception. 

Managing procurement cards:  There are three main components to responsibly managing a purchasing card program - and avoiding a front-page scandal:
  • Clear policies:  The first step is making sure there are clear rules reflecting the agency's mission and values that define acceptable use of an agency credit card 
  • Education:  Proper training should be mandatory for anyone who who uses an agency credit card. Employees should also be required to sign a statement acknowledging the policies surrounding use of the card and the consequences for using it improperly.  
  • Enforcement:  All purchases with a card should be documented and regularly reviewed to ensure they are appropriate uses of the card and do not violate agency policies. Timely review is essential to identifying and resolving problems before they get out of hand. 
Additional information:

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, September 3, 2012

Miscellaneous Training and Events


Owners Project Pipeline - Upcoming Projects in the Pacific Northwest (September 5, 2012 from 7:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Harbor Club Seattle, 801 Second Ave., Seattle).  $65 for DBIA members; $90 for non-DBIA members.  Sponsored by Design-Build Institute of America.  Click here for more details.

Doing Business with Local Government (September 12, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Bellingham, WA). Sponsored by City of Bellingham.  Free.  I will be speaking at 11:00 a.m. on "Doing Business with the Government: What You Need to Know."  If you have questions, contact Joan Cady, City of Bellingham at (360) 778-7700 or at

Webinar: Performance Management - Not Just Measures! (September 13, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET).  Sponsored by NIGP.  $59 for NIGP members; $180 for non-NIGP members.  Click here for more information.

Business Matchmaking Entrepreneurship Forum (September 19, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA).  Sponsored by Business Matchmaking.  Free.  Registration required.  Click here for more information.

CMAA September Meeting - Sound Transit Update (September 20, 2012 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Rock Salt Steaks and Seafood, 1232 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle).  $45.  Sponsored by Pacific Northwest Chapter of CMAA (Construction Management Association of America).  Click here for more details.

Contract Specification Writing (October 3, 2012 in Everett, WA; October 23, 2012 in Fife, WA).  $75.  Sponsored by WSDOT LTAP Center.  Click here for more details.

Two Short Workshops: "The Legal Side of BIM" and "Design-Build: Pros and Cons for Owners"  (October 17, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center, 3900 Montlake Blvd. NE, Seattle).  Breakfast and light lunch included.  Sponsored by COAA (Construction Owners Association of America) Washington State Chapter.  $30 for COAA members; $35 for non-members.  Click here for more details.


17th Annual Oregon Construction Law Seminar (September 20 and 21, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days in Portland, Oregon). $725 single registration.  Other prices available.  Sponsored by The Seminar Group.  Click here for more information.

GC Showcase and Seminar on "Preconstruction Collaboration Made Simple" (October 3, 2012 from 1::00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR).  Sponsored by The Blue Book Building and Construction Network.  Click here for more details.


Regional Procurement Training (November 29, 2012 at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).  Classes include: Developing Local Purchasing Policies; Opening Bids; Writing Bid Specifications; How to Handle Service Contracts; Purchasing Panel Discussion.  Sponsored by the Carolinas Association of Governmental Purchasing (CAGP).  $25 for CAGP members; $30 for non-members.  Click here for more details.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2012 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC