Tribune-Review | Monday, April 10, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Costs through the roof: Require competitive bidding
Closer scrutiny of how tax dollars are spent on school roofing jobs could well help taxpayers keep roofs over their own heads.
Pennsylvania is among 23 states participating in the Association of Educational Purchasing Agencies, “which funnels roofing projects through” national contractor Tremco, writes Robert Dziuban, Coalition for Procurement Reform executive director, in a PennLive column. He notes a survey that found Pennsylvania school districts buying roofs through the AEPA “spent $100 million more on the projects from 2005 to 2010 than they would have through public competitive bidding” — and that other studies have shown “the process of overcharging continues.”
Tremco corporate parent RPM International in 2013 paid $65 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. The lawsuit alleged RPM “defrauded the General Services Administration and other government entities by overcharging on roofing contracts as far back as 2002,” according to Mr. Dziuban.
Cooperative group purchasing works for pencils and computers. “(B)ut construction projects are not commodities,” Dziuban reminds. State Rep. Kerry A. Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin counties, agrees, saying “each school building is unique.”
Mr. Benninghoff is drafting legislation to require competitive, local-level bidding for roofing projects. Enacting such a law is a no-brainer. The sooner that happens, the better for Pennsylvania taxpayers.