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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Take the money and run -- amok

When reading the article linked below to get the full story, keep in mind this contract
"was deemed an emergency, D.C. claimed, because federal wind energy tax credits will expire at the end of the year".

Protest filed against D.C. sole-source deal for energy services
The Department of General Services selected Customer First to prepare a solicitation for a massive wind or solar energy purchase on behalf the District government, and then to review the responses. It was deemed an emergency, D.C. claimed, because federal wind energy tax credits will expire at the end of the year, and there's no other company that can do what D.C. has asked of Customer First in such a short period of time.

The District cited an "informal market survey of both local and national firms" that revealed the proposed contractor "is the only renewable energy integrator in the U.S. focused on bringing economically attractive utility-scale renewable electricity solutions to large end-users."
Procurement restrictions are intended to keep the government from spending other people's money (yours) without the self-control and prudence they'd exhibit if they were spending their own money. Here a local government was spending federal government money. The same principle should apply. (Indeed, it is likely that the federal strings attached to that money come with more "bite" for spending the money without legal authority than the local government.)

It will be interesting to see this controversy develop. The story so far has many teasers: the contractor was first selected to prepare the specs, then review responses, then awarded the contract to itself; award was sole source when it appears there were plenty of available competitors; the "emergency" existed only because the local government failed to act quickly enough in the first case to avail of the funds. Under the ABA Model Procurement Code as adopted on Guam, an emergency, as defined in law, does not include an event "which could not have been foreseen through the use of reasonable and prudent management procedures".  (5 GCA § 5030(x).)

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