Commonwealth Court: Laches Requires Reversal Of Injunction Issued For Violation Of Separations Act

A recent decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania illustrates the extreme perils of waiting too long to challenge a violation of the public bidding laws. In December 2015, the West Jefferson Hill School District solicited bids for a new Read more

Regulations Issued For City of Philadelphia Best Value Contracting

On July 27, the regulations governing the City of Philadelphia's purchase of goods and non-professional services under the "best value" standard became official. Under the regulations, the Procurement Commissioner can permit a contract to be awarded under the "best value" Read more

Third Circuit Affirms Decision On DRPA Bridge Contract But Reverses Judicial Award Of Contract To Low Bidder

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently affirmed a N.J. federal district court decision which found that that the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) had acted improperly in rejecting the low bidder for a painting contract for the Read more

AIA Pennsylvania To Host Debate On Separations Act

On Thursday, July 13, AIA Pennsylvania, the unifying body of the Pennsylvania chapters of the American Institute of Architects, will host a debate on the Separations Act. The moderated debate will take place at Harrisburg University and will feature key players Read more

DGS Issues List Of Exempt Steel Products For 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) has finally issued the list of machinery and equipment steel products which will be exempt for calendar year 2017 under the PA Steel Products Procurement Act.  The list was published in the Pa. Read more

Best Value Contracting

Regulations Issued For City of Philadelphia Best Value Contracting

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On July 27, the regulations governing the City of Philadelphia’s purchase of goods and non-professional services under the “best value” standard became official.

Under the regulations, the Procurement Commissioner can permit a contract to be awarded under the “best value” standard only after a City department has made a detailed recommendation to the Commissioner.  The regulations also cover issues such as the technical scoring criteria, makeup of the selection committee, and the evaluation and scoring of bidder proposals. For example, price must receive at least 30% of the total score and non-price attributes must receive at least 50% of the total score.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

Philadelphia Voters Approve Best Value Contracting

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It’s official! Philadelphia voters have voted in favor of the best value ballot question. Read more

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

Committee of Seventy Throws Its Weight Behind City Of Philadelphia Best Value Initiative

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On Tuesday, May 16, Philadelphia voters will be asked to vote YES or NO to the following ballot question: “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the award of certain contracts based on best value to the City?”

The ballot question is vague and confusing, and fails to inform voters that the City of Philadelphia now awards contracts on the basis of “lowest responsible bid,” a method that many believe already results in “best value” contracting for the City.

Nonetheless, the nonpartisan Committee of Seventy recently announced its support for the ballot question. The Committee of Seventy is not typically thought of as proficient on matters of public procurement, so it formed a task force comprised of Board members “with contracting experience in the public- and private-sector” to study the issue. Read more

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

Best Value Contracting Question On Philadelphia Primary Election Ballot

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Is “best value” the next, best thing in City of Philadelphia procurement? We will all know soon enough.  The best value initiative is on the official election ballot for the upcoming Philadelphia primary election.

On May 16, 2017, voters in Philadelphia will be asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the following question: “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the award of certain contracts based on best value to the City?”

If passed by the voters, best value will certainly prove to be a momentous change for Philadelphia procurement, though it remains to be seen just how momentous. Only time will tell.

My original post and thinking on the best value initiative can be found here.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

Is Best Value Contracting The Future For The City Of Philadelphia?

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Is “best value” contracting the next, new thing for the City of Philadelphia?

The Philadelphia City Council recently passed a resolution proposing an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter that would give the Procurement Department the option to award contracts, which are normally awarded to the lowest, responsible bidder, to “the responsible bidder whose proposal provides the City with the best value.” This amendment would radically alter a provision in Article VIII, Chapter 2, of the Charter that has been in place since the Charter was first enacted in 1952. Read more

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

City Of Philadelphia Will Accept E-Bids Starting Fall 2016

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Starting this fall, in a move to make bidding more efficient and competitive, the City of Philadelphia will begin to accept electronic bids and contract proposals. Philadelphia officials hope to make all aspects of City contracting electronic-based – from vendor registration to bids and even contract signatures. The change will affect contracts for public works, contracts for non-professional services, and contracts for goods and equipment.  Contracts for professional services contracts are already subject to e-bidding. Contractors who wish to bid for City contracts must register for the new program.

The new PHLContracts website can be found here.

Contractors can find registration information here.

An FAQ on the new program can be found here.

An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer on the new program can be found here.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila., Electronic Bidding Leave a comment

What Rules Govern The Award Of Public Contracts By The Philadelphia Gas Works?

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Have you ever wondered what rules govern the award of public contracts by the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW)?  Believe it or not, the answer to this question requires analysis of an ancient Philadelphia Gas Commission document that is more than 50 years old!

PGW is a collection of assets owned by the City of Philadelphia (City) that are used to manufacture and deliver natural gas to citizens residing within the City’s borders.  PGW is managed by a non-profit entity, the Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation (PFMC), pursuant to a 1972 agreement between the City and PFMC.  The agreement is itself is authorized by Ordinance No. 455, enacted by the Philadelphia City Council in 1972. The Gas Commission has general oversight over the management and operation of PGW by PFMC.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila., PGW Leave a comment

Public Radio Show Interviews Me On City Of Philadelphia No-Bid Purchase Of Police Body Cameras

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Yesterday the public radio show, APM Marketplace, aired a business story from a local WHYY reporter, Bobby Allyn, where I was asked to comment on the City of Philadelphia’s recent, no-bid purchase of police body cameras from Taser International.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

Sitting in his office on the 31st floor of a building in Center City Philadelphia, attorney Chris McCabe read the wonky language of a memo prepared by city officials.

“Currently the city has no procurement vehicle for these specific goods and services, and a competitive bid for these services would be time prohibitive,” McCabe said, reading the memo.

It means that the city hasn’t opened up a formal bidding process for a $1.4 million body camera contract expanding a pilot program. Doing so, officials determined, would take too long. McCabe, who negotiated city contracts for more than a decade, said it was unusual, and that the bidding process was there so that contractors win not based on whom they know, but instead on who has the best price.

“You have to protect the taxpayer from fraud, corruption and favoritism, and that’s done through a publicly transparent competitive bidding process,” McCabe said.

You can read and listen to the entire Taser story here.

My earlier post on the City’s no-bid purchase of the police body cameras is here.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila. Leave a comment

Can The City Of Phila. Purchase Police Body Cameras Under An Existing Contract For Tasers?

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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.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila., General Leave a comment

City Of Phila. Seeks To Implement Reverse Auction Bidding

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The City of Philadelphia has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to implement a reverse auction bidding procedure for the purchase of certain supplies, equipment, services, and concessions in lieu of ordinary, sealed paper bids.

In a reverse auction bidding, sellers compete with each other, in a dynamic, real time environment, until the lowest price is reached, thereby accruing to the buyer – here the City of Phila. – potential savings that might otherwise not be achieved with traditional, one-time paper bid submissions.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila., Electronic Bidding Leave a comment