October 2, 2015
The Commissioners asked their attorney to look at the bid specs for the Fire Pumper to see if they are too narrow; he is to let them know on Monday night (10/5/15).
After the blog post “SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY WITH THE FIRE PUMPER BIDS“ there have been thoughts posted on the blog and on Facebook. TWG agrees that Jasper County is in need of a fire truck at Station 6, and that SPLOST money has been allocated for that purpose. However, the best bid should be used in allocating those funds properly. E-One may make strong apparatus, and some, like the Jasper County Fire Chief, seem to prefer it over other brands. As someone said, “Some people prefer Fords, while others prefer Chevys. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.” Wouldn’t it make sense if E-One was the biggest, strongest, best fire truck then every fire department would use only that model? Even so, E-One may be the best truck for Jasper County; however….
There are laws that govern bidding and the request for bids to make sure everyone has a fair chance. Jasper County has been very lax in its enforcement of the bidding process, even though on 1/6/15 Comm. Henry made a motion that the bidding process be followed as required by the County procurement policy. It was passed with a 5-0 vote. (There had been numerous violations by the BOC previous to that date and several since that date.)
A “SOLE SOURCE” BID AWARD HAS TO FOLLOW RULES
It is a felony for any person to enter into a contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or in restraint of free and open competition in any transaction with the State of Georgia, any state agency or any political subdivision. O.C.G.A. § 16-10-22.
According to the Georgia Procurement Manual (GPM), there are protestable issues in procurement procedures. They include:
- The agency’s specifications give one bidder an unfair advantage over its competitors or otherwise unfairly limit competition;
- The award was based upon evaluation criteria disclosed in the RFP, but which conflicts with superior statutes, charter provisions or ordinances that prohibit such considerations;
- The agency afforded more weight to one evaluation area than was disclosed in the RFP (such as a wiring harness we heard so much about when bids were discussed)
- Irregularities in the receipt or opening of bids such as the acceptance of a late bid or the opening of bids at different times; and
- The agency improperly designated the procurement as a sole source.
Also, according to the GPM Section 3.2.3, Sole Brand Purchases 184.108.40.206:
A sole-brand purchase is a competitive solicitation which includes specifications restricting offered goods to a specific manufacturer or owner’s brand. Sound procurement practice requires that a sole-brand solicitation be used only when it is the last justifiable option, and not as an attempt to contract for a favored brand of goods. An example of the appropriate use of the sole-brand justification may include certain situations where a specific piece of equipment is needed to match existing equipment or is a replacement.
The Jasper County Fire Department had a demo truck at the station that former County Manager, Karen Degges, wanted to buy without bids. Then bids were solicited for the truck and they came in higher than the amount of funds available. At the September 21st meeting a bidder questioned the second RFP and said only an E-One model could meet the bid specs. The BOC will determine what to do at the meeting Monday 10/5/15 at 6:00PM. As a blog poster asked, “How does the attorney know anything about specifications for a fire truck?” Hopefully, the attorney will know Georgia Procurement Laws.