Government Procurement presents a hypothetical scenario describing a challenge that procurement professionals might face in the course of their careers. The following scenario was created by Stephen B. (Steve) Gordon, PhD, FNIGP, CPPO, who is the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Public Procurement and Contract Management at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. If you feel moved to respond — and we hope that you do — we’ll publish your comments in an upcoming issue of Government Procurement.
You are the chief procurement officer of a very large independent school district. Two years ago the district entered into a five-year, single award contract with the Alpha Company to provide all fuel required for the operation of the district’s enormous fleet of vehicles and equipment. You entered into the contract with Alpha by piggybacking an award made by the municipality where the district’s offices are located. The school board approved your decision to contract with Alpha by a vote of five to four. The contract provides for Alpha to deliver the fuel to the district’s one and only fueling station. To date, Alpha has performed in an outstanding manner, far exceeding the minimum contractual requirements.
The Beta Company had provided fuel to the district for twenty consecutive years prior to the award to the Alpha Company. The previous contractor’s owners were not happy when they learned that another company had received the award, but they did not file a protest.
When you open your email mid-morning on the second day of the school year, you see that the director of schools has sent you a high-priority email, telling you that the state has ordered the immediate shut-down of the district’s fueling station as a result of tests indicating the presence of an extraordinarily unacceptable level of airborne pollutants at the site. Neither the city nor the county has the capacity separately or combined to keep the district’s vehicles and equipment fueled on a timely basis; nor do all of the gasoline stations in a 20-mile radius, even when their capacities are combined with those of the city and the county.
You contact the Alpha Company immediately and ask them to provide a temporary fueling station on a vacant tract of property owned by the district, which is ideally located and otherwise suited for the requirement. The contract with the Alpha Company provides for this contingency.
The Alpha Company arrives on-site earlier than you requested, only to find out that the Beta Company already has set up a temporary fueling station on the site. The station is in full operation.
Making reasonable assumptions about the details, please consider the following questions:
- How could this be?
- What are you going to do?
- Is there anything you could have done to preclude the present reality?
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