In The News › Jefferson Parish contracting changes likely to be delayed for third time in 5 weeks

Mar 26, 2013

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Governance, Jefferson Parish

Jefferson Parish contracting changes likely to be delayed for third time in 5 weeks

By Manuel Torres, | The Times-Picayune.
March 26, 2013

The Jefferson Parish Council on Wednesday (March 27) appears likely to delay contracting reforms again, as Councilman Mark Spears said he plans to seek more time to review concerns from minority-owned businesses. If Spears colleagues go along, it would be the third time they postponed a vote on a proposed ordinance that was filed last month.

The proposal aims to curb the Parish Council’s discretion to hand out some parish contracts, by requiring that they select companies ranked near the top in technical evaluations and by mandating that price be included in the criteria to score proposals from vendors. The ordinance would also remove parish directors from the evaluation committees.

Councilman Chris Roberts, who authored the ordinance, agreed to a request by Spears on March 13 to postpone the vote so officials could meet with representatives from the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has said the proposed law would limit the ability of minority companies to get public work in Jefferson Parish, because those firms would seldom rank above larger, more established companies.

Proponents of reform have answered that the parish could make minority participation a part of the criteria used to evaluate proposal from companies, addressing the chamber’s concern while reducing political discretion in the selection process.

Roberts on Tuesday indicated he would agree to another delay if Spears requested it. Spears said he plans to do that at Wednesday’s council meeting. “We need input from everyone, especially major stakeholders,” Spears said.

The council meeting is set to begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the General Government Building, 200 Derbigny St., in Gretna.

Spears said he met with chamber of commerce officials already. But he said the watchdog group Citizens for Good Government, which has called for reforms, has not sought to schedule a meeting with him.

“They can set up a meeting anytime. To my knowledge, we have not received a phone call,” Spears said.

Margie Seemann, vice chairman of the group, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Citizens for Good Government and the Bureau of Governmental Research have called for contracting reforms since last year.
Roberts’ proposals target how the council awards contracts through the co-called Request for Proposals process, used to hire firms for some specialized contracts or to seek firms for specific tasks. BGR has said that in 2011 the parish used RFPs to award a fifth of its no-bid service contracts, including deals for recycling, transportation and security services.

Most council members have said they support Roberts’ proposal to restrict the council’s choices to only the top three or top five firms seeking a job, depending on the total number of applicants. But Spears earlier this month said, “I have a problem not being able to choose a firm that I’m comfortable with.”

Mar 26, 2013

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Governance, Jefferson Parish

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