You will recall that I recently received a call from a local asbestos abatement contractor who told me that, contrary to what Mr. Owen has been telling everyone, the job was NEVER put out to bid. Mr. Owen has maintained that the job was previously “bid”, so he didn’t see the need to “rebid” it.
Well….. not quite. I made a few “Right to Know” requests to get the details of the alleged previous bid. Turns out that the town asked Turner Engineers of Concord for an estimate as part of the $4 million proposal in 2009 (actually 2007, see below*). They in turn asked three companies for prices. In our town, there is a definition of what a “bid” is. There is a policy that says when it is required, how it is to be conducted, and under what special circumstances the Town Manager and Selectmen can waive the requirement.
The lowest price was $14,900 from Enviro-Vantage and so when the town appropriated money for abatement in March 2012, the town simply asked Enviro-Vantage for a new price. Big surprise, now they want $21,000.
So the local contractor who called me was absolutely correct. The town never bid the job and he never got a chance to compete for his own tax dollars. For the Town Manager to represent a three year old cost estimate as the equivalent of public bidding is fraudulent. When asked about it he says stuff like:
“I don’t know if he mentioned to you that we have already awarded two projects to him this year, as well as other projects in previous years, so he has been doing quite nicely from the Town’s procurement practices.”
Seems to me that’s an excellent reason to ask him to bid on this project.
“As the Town official responsible for letting contracts and administering the procurement process, as well as being the author if the Town’s Procurement Policy, I did not (and do not) see any need to rebid the same scope of work, except now the work will be done at night and on weekends so as to not interfere with the Town workforce.”
I don’t know if it’s laziness, incompetence, or corruption but the whole thing stinks.
In the pipe we have a sole-source proposal for windows that is more than 100% over budget, and have been waiting for a price from an alarm company for several months with no mention of putting the job estimated at $20,000 out to bid.
When confronted about these activities, the Selectmen and Town Manager say that they haven’t yet signed any contracts so they are not in violation of the procurement policy. What do you think?
* Correction 7/4/2012: I just noticed a fine print date on the estimate sheet. Turns out it was 2007 – 5 years ago! Probably part of the original McGinley Kalsow plan. It had been represented as 2009 at the Selectmen’s meeting.