In The News › BGR lukewarm on Jefferson contract reform efforts

BGR lukewarm on Jefferson contract reform efforts

By Ben Myers, CityBusiness
February 26, 2013

The Jefferson Parish Council’s proposal to revamp nonprofessional service procurement today received a mixed review from the Bureau of Governmental Research, a government watchdog organization.

The proposed ordinance would change the parish’s “request for proposals” process, which it used to procure 20 percent of non-bid service contracts two years ago, according to BGR. Last year, the nonprofit weighed in with critiques and recommendations concerning the parish’s contracting procedures. Its chief complaint was “nearly unfettered discretion” on the part of the council in contract selection.

Currently, for example, nothing obligates the council to follow recommendations from technical evaluation committees tasked with scoring proposals. The proposed ordinance would require the council to select from the top three or five respondents, depending on the number.

The BGR, in a statement issued today, derided this provision as “the illusion of reform while maintaining a system that allows elected officials to pick and choose who receives parish work.”
BGR’s statement also questions a provision to eliminate political appointees, including department heads, from the evaluation committees. Its rationale is to stamp out undue influence from the parish president, which BGR labeled a “legitimate concern.” But such a disqualification would be novel to Jefferson Parish and is inconsistent with the power the council is seeking to keep for itself, according to the statement.

“The discretion individual council members enjoy in selecting contractors is more susceptible to politics than the participation of a political appointee in a group evaluation,” the report states.

BGR applauded the proposal’s inclusion of price as a scored criterion and sealing the prices until other criteria receive consideration. At the same time, the organization questions a provision to “unnecessarily” fix the weight that price receives at 20 percent of the overall score.

“There is no single appropriate weight for price,” the statement reads. “Instead, its proper percentage will vary depending on whether the project is straightforward or open-ended and the importance of qualifications to a successful service procurement.”

BGR more strongly endorsed a provision to expand campaign contribution disclosures beyond prime contractors. The new ordinance would require subcontractors, as well as individual executives and owners of primes and subs, to submit disclosures.

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.