Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake offered minimalist answers to questions about the water meter replacement contract involving her top campaign contributor that’s $100 million higher than its rival.
At a press conference today, the mayor gave brief responses to reporters’ questions about the $185 million proposal – pushed by financial backer and Grand Prix promoter, J.P. Grant – before turning the matter over to Harry E. Black, director of finance.
Here is The Brew’s report on the bid submitted by Dynis LLC, a Columbia cell tower repair company, to replace 400,000 city and county water meters with wireless units.
Below is a transcript of today’s Qs and As about the contract:
BREW: Regarding the water meter contract, bids have come into the city and one bid, from the Dynis group, is $100 million more than the second bid. I wanted to get your feedback on that, and how you wish to proceed with those bids?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I don’t have that information. Mr. Black can address it.
HARRY BLACK: I hate to sound bureaucratic, but in that this is a live procurement, I would not think it appropriate to have that kind of dialogue with you at this point so as not to jeopardize the integrity of the process. Because bids are now being evaluated at this point, providing comment would probably not be appropriate.
BREW: A lot of the people involved in the Dynis bid include campaign contributors. Does that have an influence on the process?
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: No, no.
BLACK: The mayor is not involved at all in this procurement. My office, my bureau of purchases, is conducting this procurement. The mayor is not involved in any aspect of it.
BREW: Why is the award of this contract so weighed to the technical side compared to lowest price?
BLACK: Typically in procurements like that, your selection is going to emphasize best value versus lowest bid because the nature of the requirement you are soliciting for is of such a nature that having the lowest price may not be in the best interest of the organization, in this case the city. You are looking for a balance between the two because of the complexity of what you’re trying to accomplish.
FOX 45 NEWS: This contract could potentially cost the city $100 million?
BLACK: This procurement is still in play and I’d rather not get into any discussions regarding specifics.
FOX 45 NEWS: But once you’ve approved it, it’s too late to discuss it, right?
BLACK: We have to trust that this process is a good process and the outcome will be in the best interests of the city.
BREW: Can the technical scoring of the committee be made public ahead of the Board [of Estimates] award?
BLACK: Generally speaking with these procurement processes, that kind of stuff becomes available post-award. Once again, that is not to compromise the integrity of the process.