Stricter bidding requirements
by Paul Adkins
A decision to sharply limit the use of a secondary bid practice that has been blamed for wasting taxpayers’ money in West Virginia is a wise, albeit belated, move.
The administration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin last week notified vendors tied to eight contracts used by state agencies to buy various goods and services that those contracts will be canceled at the end of this month. Beginning July 1, state agencies will be required to solicit and review formal bids for purchases over $25,000.
The move by Tomblin should essentially wipe the slate clean of using “secondary bids,” which allowed state agencies to tap existing statewide contracts and buy items from a list of pre-approved vendors without necessarily requiring vendors to compete for those purchases.
The practice had been used for a variety of state purchases, ranging from office furniture to computer equipment and services including technology consultants, moving and hauling, tree removal and recycling services, according to a report in The Charleston Gazette.
The use of secondary bids had come under fire in recent months, with auditors questioning whether the practice was legal under state law. …
Tomblin proposed a bill during this year’s legislative session to outlaw secondary bids, but it was killed in the House of Delegates after companies with statewide contracts complained it would cost them state business.
The move could indeed affect dozens of companies, particularly if they don’t submit the best proposals when new contracts are sought under competitive bidding. Conversely, an open, competitive bidding procedure could allow opportunities for other businesses that had effectively been shut out under the old procedures. Diane Holley-Brown, spokeswoman for the state purchasing division, emphasized that in discussing the move to cancel existing contracts.
She also made another important point: “More competition will most likely yield lower prices for the state,” she said. That seems like the logical outcome from a fairer, more competitive bidding process.
— Distributed by The Associated Press
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