The Cranky Taxpayer

The Cranky Taxpayer

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On November 25, 2008, the RPS' Chief Auditor published a Special Review of the process by which RPS contracted to pay $291,080 for the design of an elevator at Fox Elementary School.  Copy here (pdf).

The Review centers around the Request for Proposals (RFP) for design work for the proposed elevator at Fox. 

Prior to issuing the RFP, RPS had contacted Ballou Justice Upton (BJU) and requested a cost proposal for design of the elevator.  BJU produced a proposal, priced at $291,080.  Three days later, RPS issued the RFP.  The RFP described the project in terms identical to the proposal from BJU.

The RFP contained five criteria for decision as to the winning proposal.  The first criterion was: “Firm’s previous experience in design of an addition at Fox Elementary School.”

Five firms submitted proposals in response to the RFP.  By inference from this poorly written Review, BJU, because of the RPS request, was the only firm with “previous experience in design of an addition at Fox Elementary School.”  Thus, RPS short-circuited the competitive negotiation required by the Public Procurement Act and issued an RFP that assured BJU would receive the contract.

At CODE § 2.2-4301, the Procurement Act provides that a public body procuring professional services

shall engage in individual discussions with two or more offerors deemed fully qualified, responsible and suitable on the basis of initial responses and with emphasis on professional competence, to provide the required services.”

The statute continues:

The offerors shall be encouraged to elaborate on their qualifications and performance data or staff expertise pertinent to the proposed project, as well as alternative concepts. [emphasis supplied].

Rather than engage in the required competitive negotiation seeking “alternative concepts,” RPS wrote the RFP using the concept provided by BJU, buttressing the certainty that BJU would be selected.

It should be no surprise that BJU received a contract for the work for $291,080.

This process was grossly unlawful under the Act.  Indeed, the primary question to be answered on these facts is whether someone at RPS willfully perverted the procurement and thus is subject to prosecution under CODE § 2.2-4377.[1]

Unfortunately, the Review does not understand the procurement violations and does not answer the question of motive.  My analysis (pdf) of the Review concludes:

  • The author(s) of this Review and particularly the Chief Auditor who signed the cover memorandum are not friends of the English language.  As to the English, the Review is an embarrassment.

  • Aside from the distraction of the sloppy language, the content of the Review also is an embarrassment.  The sloppy reporting leads me to conclude that the Review was performed incompetently and should be repeated by someone who knows how perform and report a review.

  • The total absence of any notion of accountability in the Review and the failure of the Review to recommend accountability for the procurement process in the future are symptoms of a larger problem in RPS.  As to the procurement operation, until the Board and Superintendent begin to require accountability for the actions of their subordinates, we can expect this kind of lawless behavior to persist.

And we pay taxes to support this behavior!


Note added on Dec. 8:  On Dec. 2, 2008, RPS issued a replacement RFP that repeats major errors of the Sept. 26 version.

Note added on March 28, 2010:  RPS published spreadsheets showing costs of ADA projects.  You don't need to read far to see they are squandering our money.


[1] § 2.2-4377. Penalty for violation.
Any person convicted of a willful violation of any provision of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, any public employee, in addition to any other fine or penalty provided by law, shall forfeit his employment.


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Last updated 04/01/12
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher