In The News › Clean up contracting rules: An editorial

Aug 4, 2012

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Ethics, Jefferson Parish

Clean up contracting rules: An editorial

A citizen group is urging Jefferson Parish officials to implement some reforms recommended by the Bureau of Governmental Research, and that’s what the parish should do. Citizens for Good Government wants the parish to include price in evaluating professional services contracts, to provide a written explanation when parish officials choose not to use the public bid process and to remove some of the council’s power over the awarding of professional services contracts.

BGR’s report clearly illustrated the problems with the current setup. Firms qualified to provide professional services donated $580,000, or 43 percent of council members’ campaign funds, BGR found. In several cases in recent years qualified firms that had not contributed to the council members’ campaigns were shunned, even though they offered the best deals for taxpayers.

To remedy that, BGR recommends requiring that professional contracts be awarded to the firm with the highest evaluation from the parish’s technical committees. That would remove most of the discretion from elected officials, which raises questions about who would be accountable to taxpayers. But the parish should at least require that officials pick a firm from among the top-ranked companies — choosing from the top three, for example.

Parish President John Young said Monday that he was already moving to make price part of the equation for professional services contracts. That’s a good development. Until last fall, price was factored into rankings of proposals, but the council jettisoned that practice. That was the wrong move.

Mr. Young also said he has instructed his staff to put reasons in writing when the bid process isn’t used.

That should be helpful, too. But the best approach is to keep those situations to a minimum and put work out for bids.

Aug 4, 2012

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Ethics, Jefferson Parish

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