Tuesday, July 29, 2014

City Bid Embroiled in Controversy in New Mexico

The narrow 4-3 vote by the Espanola, NM city council on June 24, 2014 approving the purchase of a new $36,636 truck has created firestorm of controversy.  

Award based on a state cooperative purchasing contract:  The city based the award recommendation to the council on a state-wide cooperative purchasing contract that had earlier solicited local bids, although no specific local bids were solicited for the particular truck in question.  The car dealership that was awarded the contract is not local, but is based in Albuquerque.  

Did the city administration lie?  While the director of the City's General Services Department told the city council that he sought local bids, one council member later discovered that a local car dealer had not been solicited to submit a bid, prompting the council member to call the General Services Department director a liar.  But the department director asserted that local bids had been solicited when the state bid a state-wide contract for trucks, and that the department was basing the award off of the cooperative purchasing contract with the state.

New local bid price lower:  The concerned council member then obtained a bid from a local car dealership that was $500 less than the Albuquerque business, prompting the department director to assert that the council member had shown the local dealership the Albuquerque price, a charge the council member denied.

More information:  Click here to read a more complete news story about this simmering controversy in New Mexico.

Lessons learned:  
  • Transparency:  Be transparent, precise, and clear when making award recommendations to elected officials.
  • Perceptions:  Remember that perceptions matter, especially when it comes to use of local businesses.
  • Civility:  Be professional, civil, and act like adults in discussing procurement issues.
  • Procedures:  Have clear procedures for when cooperative purchasing agreements will be used and for who is authorized to obtain bids.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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