In The News › Landrieu appointee to oversee contracting

Jan 2, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Orleans Parish

Landrieu appointee to oversee contracting

Sunday, January 2, 2011
By Bruce Eggler
The Times-Picayune

Fulfilling a promise he made early in his administration, Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Friday appointed a chief procurement officer for New Orleans and pledged that “for the first time in our city’s history, contracts will be awarded based on what you know, not who you know.”

Landrieu named Mary Kay Kleinpeter-Zamora, a former senior director of corporate purchasing for Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., to the new post.

She will oversee the awarding of all city contracts, including setting advertising standards and developing standard formats for requests for proposals and requests for qualifications, the methods used to solicit proposals for professional services contracts not subject to public bid laws.

Landrieu also appointed Norman David Roussell as director of supplier diversity, in charge of strengthening the city’s efforts to assist disadvantaged business enterprises, or DBEs. By law, such companies are supposed to get 35 percent of city spending on outside contracts.

On June 3, a month after taking office, Landrieu announced a package of sweeping changes designed to allay long-standing suspicions about corruption, patronage and overspending in the way the city selects professional services contractors. New Orleans mayors have traditionally had broad authority in handing out the often lucrative contracts for legal, architectural, engineering, management and technical services.

“We are going to institute a new way of doing business … to restore credibility and faith that the public should always have in the way government handles its money,” Landrieu said at the time in signing four executive orders laying out his reform package.

One of the orders promised that he would appoint a chief procurement officer, who would wield broad authority over “procurement, management, control and disposal of … supplies, services and construction.” The order said the appointee must have at least five years of experience in “large-scale public procurement.”

Landrieu’s procurement rules apply to all contracts worth more than $15,000 executed by City Hall and many affiliated agencies, including the Sewerage & Water Board and the Aviation Board. They do not affect the City Council, which sets its own procurement rules.

Creating a director of supplier diversity was another of the promises Landrieu made in June.

Landrieu’s office said Roussell will develop and implement a supplier and contractor diversity program that “incorporates national best practices.” He also will meet regularly with officers of banks and other financial entities to seek resources to support DBEs.

Roussell is the founder of the Capital Access Project, a nonprofit organization created to promote the growth of small, disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned firms in New Orleans.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, an independent watchdog group, has long called for eliminating politics from the way New Orleans awards contracts for professional services.

In a March report, the group ticked off a list of contracts issued under Mayors Marc Morial and Ray Nagin that drew criticism for their high cost or the questionable qualifications of the people who received them. It concluded, “Many citizens of New Orleans have lost faith in the government’s ability to procure services that are cost-effective and serve the public interest. To regain the public trust, the city must establish a sound and scrupulous process for evaluating and awarding professional services contracts.”

The BGR called for appointing a chief procurement officer who meets educational and professional certification standards. It also said outside firms’ proposals should be reviewed and ranked only by career civil servants, not by committees including mayoral appointees, as Landrieu’s system provides.

Under an ordinance passed by the City Council in June 2009, locally owned or controlled companies are supposed to get 50 percent of all public spending, and “socially and economically disadvantaged businesses,” especially those in storm-damaged areas of the city, are supposed to get 35 percent.

Nagin had announced the same goals on his own in 2006.

The council’s ordinance set the percentages as overall targets “for all public spending or private projects that utilize public funding and/or incentives.” Whether individual projects are held to the overall standard depends “on the availability of locally owned and disadvantaged businesses in the relevant market sector,” the law says.

Despite the ambitious goals, many minority business owners and council President Arnie Fielkow often complained that the Nagin administration did little to ensure that the targets were met or to assist minority-owned firms.

Kleinpeter-Zamora is an LSU graduate and has a certified purchasing manager certification from the Institute of Supply Chain Management in Tempe, Ariz. She has worked in the procurement field for more than 20 years, including 13 years with Del Monte.

Roussell is a native of New Orleans and a graduate of St. Augustine High School and Howard University. He has a master of business administration degree from Loyola University.

Jan 2, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Contracting, Orleans Parish

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