Can a public entity add-on to an existing contract in order to satisfy a need for a new and different service, supply or equipment?
On March 7, WHYY’s Newsworks reported that that is precisely what the City of Philadelphia plans to do under an existing stun gun contract with Taser International. According to the Newsworks report, the City intends to spend more than $200,000 under the Taser contract to purchase police body cameras:
City records show that Philadelphia’s Police Department has a $705,361 contract with Taser that is expected to cover hundreds more cameras, the cost of evidence storage and equipment upgrades. It will also pay for stun guns.
Officials confirm, $210,000 of that will pay for hundreds of new body cameras.
Philadelphia had an existing contract with Taser for the stun guns, so it was easy to piggyback on that for the body cameras.
The City’s intent to spend more than $200,000 to purchase police body cameras under the Taser contract, without open, competitive bidding, may violate the public bidding rules set forth in Article VIII, Chapter 2, of the Phila. Home Rule Charter. When it comes to the purchase of generic items, like body cameras, the bedrock rule for City contracting is sealed, competitive bidding, duly advertised, with the contract being awarded to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder.