The Division of Administration (DOA) is more than two weeks late in announcing the awarding of a contract and nearly a week late on the effective date of a contract for the consolidation of the information technology (IT) departments of more than 20 departments within the state’s Executive Branch.
The Request for Proposals (RFP) for Information Technology Planning and Management Support Services was first issued on June 28 with a July 31 deadline for the submission of proposals.
Oral interviews were to be held on Aug. 14, according to the RFP, with the announcement of intent to award set for Aug. 16 and the contract work to begin on Aug. 30. The mere fact that the announcement of intent to award was set for only two days after oral interviews smacks of a done deal; how else could the administration make a decision of this magnitude (hundreds of millions of dollars) after only two days of interviews? How could an intelligent decision be made on such complex, complicated proposals in a mere two weeks’ time?
Interim Chief Information Officer Richard “Dickie” Howze, at a meeting of Council of Information Service Directors, stressed two main points, according to those in attendance. First, he said, IBM had not already been selected (strange how he would deny something before it had been alleged) and second, the consolidation goal was not to fire people. Yeah, right.
Howze also distributed a memorandum cautioning DOA section heads and Council of Information Services directors against any contact with vendors who are potential proposers or who may be part of a proposal as a subcontractor. “If you work with a contractor who is a potential proposer, there shall be no private communications, discussion of the upcoming process, timelines, RFP content, evaluation or award,” the memo said.
“Additionally, it is not appropriate for any current state employee to provide a reference for a vendor responding to this procurement.
“These restrictions will remain in effect until the contract(s) has been awarded and the protest period has past (sic). Anyone failing to follow this policy may face disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”
Amazing what the CNSI debacle can do in helping public officials find their moral compasses, isn’t it?
Those restrictions may have been in place with the awarding of the $200 million CNSI contract by the Department of Health and Hospitals but apparently someone neglected to get the word to then-DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein who maintained constant contact with his old bosses at CNSI right through the billing, selection and contract awarding process. Now the FBI is investigating that contract, Greenstein is gone, and the folks at DOA appear to have learned from that experience.
Or have they?
Howze, in laying out the ground rules for the current RFP, neglected to address a pre-RFP request by DOA for presentations from IBM, Deloitte and Northrop Grumman to discuss what those companies could do for the state.
Is it possible that these three players may have gained some insight and advantage in those meetings? Who attended from the state and should they now be terminated as per Howze’s memo?
We’re just sayin’….
Meanwhile, DOA’s legal staff appears to have gone into a stall mode over public records requests by LouisianaVoice, apparently preferring to bicker over semantics rather than providing public records.
On Monday, LouisianaVoice submitted the following request to DOA:
“Pursuant to the Public Records Act of Louisiana (R.S. 44:1 et seq.), I respectfully request the following information:
“According to the Request for Proposal (RFP# 107-28062013001) for Information Technology Planning and Management Support Services, under Section 1.6 (Calendar of Events), the ‘Announcement of Intent to Award’ was scheduled to be made on Aug. 16, 2013 and the ‘Contract Begin Date’ was Aug. 30, 2013.
“In accordance to that information and pursuant to the Public Records laws of the State of Louisiana, please provide me immediately with:
- “The name and address of the winning bidder;
- “The name of the company to whom the contract was awarded;
- “The amount of the winning bid;
- “The amount of the actual contract;
- “Also, please provide me the opportunity to review all the proposals submitted in response to RFP#: 107-28062013001.
The response we received on Tuesday from attorney Joshua Paul Melder said:
“We have received your public records request regarding Request for Proposal No. 107-28062013001. You have requested information rather than documents, therefore the Public Records Act is inapplicable. Nevertheless, in an effort to be helpful we have identified some documents that may contain the information you seek, including the Notice of Intent to Award the Contract and the proposals submitted for the RFP. Please advise if you would like to inspect these documents and we will collect them for copying or for your review.
“The contract has not been executed yet, however, we will be happy to provide a copy to you upon its final execution.”
At least he did extend an offer to provide a copy of the contract upon its execution, whenever that may be.
We fired off our response:
“You have a very narrow definition of what is public record and what is information, one which does not square with the law as set forth in RS 44:2 (a). The Public Records Act (RS 44:2 (a) is quite broad in its definition of public records. You should familiarize yourself with it. As a courtesy, I am attaching the definition below:”
RS 44: (2)(a) All books, records, writings, accounts, letters and letter books, maps, drawings, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, memoranda, and papers, and all copies, duplicates, photographs, including microfilm, or other reproductions thereof, or any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, including information contained in electronic data processing equipment, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed, or retained for use in the conduct, transaction, or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty, or function which was conducted, transacted, or performed by or under the authority of the constitution or laws of this state, or by or under the authority of any ordinance, regulation, mandate, or order of any public body or concerning the receipt or payment of any money received or paid by or under the authority of the constitution or the laws of this state, are “public records”, except as otherwise provided in this Chapter or the Constitution of Louisiana.
“I’m reasonably certain what I am seeking will fall within the public records law as defined above.”
However, just to demonstrate that we can be flexible, we are altering the wording somewhat and re-submitting our request thus:
According to the Request for Proposal (RFP# 107-28062013001) for Information Technology Planning and Management Support Services, under Section 1.6 (Calendar of Events), the “Announcement of Intent to Award” was scheduled to be made on Aug. 16, 2013 and the “Contract Begin Date” was Aug. 30, 2013.
In accordance to that information and pursuant to the Public Records laws of the State of Louisiana, please provide me upon final execution with:
- Documents containing the name and address of the winning bidder;
- Documents containing the name of the company to whom the contract was awarded;
- Documents containing the amount of the winning bid;
- Documents containing the amount of the actual contract;
- Also, please provide me the opportunity to review all documents containing the proposals submitted in response to RFP#: 107-28062013001.
If it’s semantics they want, it’s semantics they’ll get.