I have a confession to make. Every day, I read the “News of the Weird” segment on www.govpro.com. I visit the site for the helpful information, resources, and links, but my first stop is for the daily dose of bizarre behavior. On a recent visit, I scanned the odd events and came across what looked like an item involving a large insurance company, chickens, squad cars, and advertising.
The insurance company, once known for giving away chickens in poor neighborhoods to get people to switch from Medicaid coverage to its own, was now apparently purchasing squad cars for a Florida municipality. I assumed that the arrangement involving the municipality, the company, and 15 new police vehicles also included rolling insurance advertisements.
Thinking this might make an interesting column, I called the insurance company and spoke to a public relations (PR) person. When I inquired about the vehicles, I was informed that no squad cars had been purchased for the municipality. A bit confused, I questioned on, only to be assured that the PR person would have known if such an event had occurred. He questioned my source. “The ‘News of the Weird,'” I told him. After a comment about the appropriateness of such content for Government Procurement, we said our good-byes.
Next, my inquisitive nature led me back to www.govpro.com, where I discovered the source of confusion. Two items were accidentally combined, throwing chickens and squad cars together to create an interesting—albeit inaccurate— procurement event. The space between items was added immediately, and I went on to investigate the squad cars story.
I found several references to a company named Government Acquisitions, Inc. “At a direct request of government agencies,” the company had provided funding and vehicles to a number of municipalities. According to the company’s Web site, “There is virtually an unlimited amount of capital available for new, fully-equipped, law enforcement, fire department, rescue, and other public safety vehicles.”
I consulted members of the Government Procurement Editorial Advisory Board for their take on this option. As you might expect, board members expressed a number of concerns, including program legitimacy, favoritism or the appearance of it, government endorsement of goods and services, eligibility parameters, and “Catch-22” requirements.
Interestingly, one of our more adventurous board members “would take this equipment in a heartbeat,” had accepted vehicle donations in the past, and planned to pass the information on to the public safety department.
How do you feel about this practice? Has your entity ever accepted such vehicle donations? Would you recom-mend this to others? Let me know where you stand on this issue. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, catch up on your daily News of the Weird by visiting the newly redesigned www.govpro.com. (Last weeks column included a tidbit about a skydiving dachshund.) We’ve made it easier to navigate our many resources, including the Online Supplier Directory with more than 3,500 companies who sell to the government market, the 2003 Events Calendar, the Government Procurement article archive, government-related links, and past issues of the GovPro E-Newsletter.