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Friday, December 23, 2011

Keep your specs on

If your vacation was ever taken in the manner that many solicitations are processed, you'd never get there, or get where you intended, or get back again.

When planning a vacation, you very carefully (unless on a free-abandon adventure) decide where you want to go, when and where to stay, what to do, etc.; and if you can book the time and place. You also want to shop around for best prices, appropriate accommodations, class of travel, etc.

Then, absent misadventure, you stick to the plan and have the photos to prove it. Even if, along the way, you realize you could have done things a bit differently and saved yourself a little money or convenience.

Once everything is planned and booked, changing plans becomes expensive and often impossible. You have, after all, caused airlines, hotels, tour companies, etc., to modify their plans to accommodate yours. Upsetting you plans causes them inconvenience and often costs and damages.

Procurement should be approached with the same understanding.

First, determine what it is you need. Then find out if it is available in the market. Write the specifications you need to get that. Then get quotes, and go and have fun.

What we too often find with procurement, though, is that people want to change their plans after the bookings have been made and deposits paid. The following article from Suffolk, Virginia, USA, illustrates this common occurrence.

Contract lawsuit dismissed
A lawsuit against the city of Suffolk was dismissed this week after the city canceled a contract it had signed to purchase a mobile command bus for the police department.

The lawsuit involved a mobile command vehicle the Suffolk Police Department planned to purchase with a Port Security Grant of more than $600,000.

The bus, according to a presentation to City Council by Police Chief Thomas Bennett earlier this year, would help the department improve its response to natural disasters, hostage situations and other incidents.

Matthews Specialty Vehicles Inc., submitted a bid of $655,292 for the vehicle. Farber Specialty Vehicles submitted a lower bid of $589,000 and was given the contract.

Matthews promptly cried foul, saying that Farber’s bid did not follow the specifications listed in the bid invitation, including for such things as the width and weight of the bus, dimensions of the radiator, construction and flooring materials, the style of cabinets and ceilings and more.

After the lawsuit was filed, Suffolk Circuit Court granted an injunction that prevented the city from proceeding with the purchase until the trial was concluded. Matthews alleged that Suffolk had violated the Virginia Public Procurement Act.

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