In The News › Jefferson Parish delays contracting reforms, and disappointed advocates ask for meeting with council

Mar 13, 2013

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Governance, Jefferson Parish

Jefferson Parish delays contracting reforms, and disappointed advocates ask for meeting with council

By Manuel Torres, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
March 13, 2013

Jefferson Parish Council members Wednesday postponed a vote on contracting changes, as advocates expressed disappointment that officials were once again delaying proposals that have been in the works for months. The deferral was expected, as officials had said they would give time for representatives of minority businesses to lobby the council.

Still, advocates expressed dismay.

“We’re anxious for the council to at least take some action in reforming the (contracting) process,” representatives of Citizens for Good Government told council members.

Councilman Mark Spears asked for the delay so that the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce can meet with council members to discuss objections to the proposal. Patrice Williams-Smith, the chamber’s president and CEO, has said a provision reducing the council’s discretion in granting contracts would limit the ability of minority-owned companies to win public contracts.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, which is advocating for reforms, said the parish could include minority participation in the criteria to evaluate contractors, thus addressing the chamber’s concern while reducing political discretion in the selection process.

Margie Seemann, president of Citizens for Good Government, asked the council Wednesday to also schedule meetings with her organization and with BGR, so that proponents of the changes can also lobby officials. Spears said those meetings would be arranged if the groups request them.

Council members and Parish President John Young began proposing changes last fall to how the parish awards so-called Request for Proposal contracts. The RFP process, used to hire specialized, non-professional services, was used to in 20 percent of the parish’s no-bid service contracts in 2011, according to BGR. Those 2011 deals included contracts for recycling, transportation and security services.

Councilman Chris Roberts authored an ordinance earlier this year that would restrict the council’s choices in RFP contracts to firms ranked in the top three in parish evaluations, or the top five if eight or more firms made offers. The proposed ordinance would also require the council to consider price as part of the criteria used to evaluate offers, and would mandate that contractors file affidavits disclosing campaign contributions made to parish officials, among other items.
Seemann said Wednesday the reforms fall short of what her group and BGR would like to see, but she said the changes are a step in the right direction.

“We’re disappointed they postponed it,” she said.

Mar 13, 2013

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Governance, Jefferson Parish

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