Again, the point here is that we need transparency on no-bid contracts, not to make them illegal or to say that they automatically represent "Pay to Play":
Many state governments allow goods and services to be purchased without asking for competitive bids. But some good-government groups say South Dakota is behind the curve in the ways it makes information on such contracts available to the public.
Firms awarded such contracts should have to disclose any campaign contributions and should be barred from making more contributions during the contract and possibly for a year afterward, Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association, based in Chicago, told the Rapid City Journal.
Also, information on contracts and contractors should be easily available and searchable online for the public and other firms that might want to compete for state business, Stewart said.
IM10 would have done that. The MSM is finally catching up.
And for those who want to blame only the governor (and for those who want to bel;ieve the governor’s denials), the problem is that the governor may not even know about the arrangements:
In South Dakota, if a state agency determines and can verify there is "only one source for the required service or item," it can award a contract without permission from the governor or another official.
It also can award contracts without bids when the contract amount is less than $50,000 for the construction or remodeling of a building, less than $25,000 for any other public improvement, and less than $25,000 for the purchase of materials, supplies or equipment.
And here is more on professional services:
Professional services such as legal, financial or advertising often are described as services that don’t lend themselves well to the lowest bid.
"The argument is, they’re not making widgets, so you can’t compare the widgets, because it’s a service, not a product," Stewart said. "Otherwise you’ll have the cheapest lawyers, the cheapest accountants, and do we really want that?"
When such contracts are not put up for bid, they’re called "no-bid" or "sole-source" contracts.
The arguments against bidding make sense, Stewart said. But the problem is, "it’s exploited like crazy," he added
Without bidding, Stewart said government officials can award contracts to anyone — friends, big donors or even less qualified providers.
Connecticut, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Hawaii and New Jersey restrict campaign contributions from government contractors, and Illinois and Colorado have similar laws just taking effect.
Will the South Dakota legislature have enough courage to implement these reforms? Here are the benefits:
Jack Gallt, director of the National Association of State Procurement Officials, said accountability and a tracking system are important.
"Public procurement, the whole cornerstone of the profession is competition," Gallt said.
"It keeps prices down, it opens up the marketplace to new and innovative companies. It’s a win-win for everyone. It’s prudent, acting in the public interest, to get the lowest possible price."
States that ban "pay to play" practices also are opening their records. And Stewart said the public expects it.
It should not be expensive or burdensome to states, he said. "They’re already writing things on electronic documents," Stewart said. "Converting it and slapping it up on the Internet is not that big of a deal."
Sounds like a wonderful way to reduce government spending without reducing services. When will Pat Powers jump on the bandwagon?