Procurement Ponderable response
The goal of Go Pro is to stimulate thought and discussion on significant issues in the profession, to foster collaboration and community, and to encourage creative solutions to common challenges. In that spirit, Go Pro from time to time presents a hypothetical scenario describing a challenge that procurement professionals might face in the course of their careers.
Last month’s question concerned a chief procurement officer of a large metropolitan water and sewer authority who engaged the services of a contracted program manager to oversee a $1 billion program, funded by federal and state agencies, aimed at abating overflow of untreated water into a river running through the service area. For reasons deemed beyond the program manager’s control, the original 10-year project completion deadline had to be extended an additional five years, and an RFP covering the additional timespan was issued. Three firms were short-listed, but the incumbent firm for the previous nine years received by far the lowest score. The department head barged into a meeting of the Evaluation Committee and demanded that staff members ensure the incumbent comes out on top.
The following response to the hypothetical scenario comes from Gregg Meierhofer, coordinator of bids and contracts for the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA):
Immediately I would talk to the Department Head allegedly manipulating the Evaluation Committee asking them for their side of the story. Assuming they had, in fact, tried to manipulate the evaluation team, I would point out the error in their ways and let them know disciplinary action may be taken.
Immediately, I would re-convene the Evaluation Committee to discuss the events of the day. Assuming the Evaluation Committee has to that point used the documentation available to them as a template for their evaluation, I would ask the Committee to evaluate the events of the day with respect to compliance with that available documentation, identifying and documenting any “Major” or “Minor” discrepancies with that available documentation. As individuals grapple with the definition of “Major” and “Minor” discrepancies with respect to the actions of a “Team Member” (extended as they may be) and what should or should not be done in evaluating the bid responses, I would take the opportunity to point out that the procedures and parameters for evaluating this bid in front of them are contained in the documentation for the procurement. Even if we come up with a list of “improvements” to our solicitation, those changes would only be applicable to a solicitation containing those “improvements” from its inception. Although certain undefined parameters will always be subject to the interpretation of the Evaluation Committee, by and large the evaluation must be carried out according to the parameters set forth in the solicitation.
Later I would again attempt to solve the number one challenge for the procurement world, which is making sure we don’t get what we don’t want. It is hard for a procurement professional to consider themselves a success when, although we may have asked the best questions we could, our end-user customer is the angry owner of an inferior product or service as a result of our procurement action.
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