According to recent audits conducted by the Pa. Department of the Auditor General, Pennsylvania school districts spent at least $53.7 million in excess of the state’s transportation reimbursement formula through the use of no-bid busing contracts.
The conclusion of the Auditor General was based on audits of about 450 of the state’s 500 public school districts. As a result, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called on the Pa. General Assembly to mandate competitive bidding for such transportation services, saying:
To get the best possible price and ensure transparency for taxpayers, student transportation contracts should be re-bid every time they are up for renewal. I’m calling on the General Assembly to enact legislation to ensure school districts are getting the best possible price by requiring them to seek competitive bids for transportation services. Amending the Public School Code to require schools to competitively bid transportation services will improve transparency and could put more money in our classrooms.
The Auditor General press release issued on May 12, 2016, can be found here. A PennLive story on the Auditor General’s findings can be found here.
On April 7, 2016, Pa. Governor Tom Wolf signed a new Executive Order establishing that future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contracts must ensure that contractors doing business with the state will not discriminate in the award of subcontracts or supply contracts, or in hiring, promotion, or other labor matters, on the basis of sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The Executive Order also mandates that contractors receiving state funds must have, as a condition of payment, a written sexual harassment policy and that employees of the contractor are aware of the policy. Read more
Under the Pa. Procurement Code, a protest must be filed within seven days after the protestant knew or should have known of the facts giving rise to the protest. If the protest is untimely, it will be rejected. Recently, in a published opinion and in a departure from the usual rule, the Commonwealth Court decided that equitable principles would allow a late-filed protest to be considered.
The case concerned Pa. Department of Transportation (PennDOT) inspection contracts on which Bureau Veritas (BV), the protestant, had submitted a statement of interest. PennDOT ranked BV fifth in its statement of rankings. BV learned of the rankings on November 13, 2014. Seven days later, on November 20, 2014, BV filed a protest, but the email of its protest was rejected by PennDOT’s computer server due to improper formatting of the file attachment. On November 21, 2014, BV learned of the email rejection and promptly re-sent the email with the proper formatting of the file attachment, eight days after the publication of the rankings. PennDOT rejected BV’s protest as untimely and on the merits. BV then argued that it should be allowed to file its protest nunc pro tunc (literally, “now for then”). PennDOT issued a final determination rejecting the protest, as well as the request that the protest be considered nunc pro tunc. BV appealed to the Commonwealth Court. Read more
On March 7, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed an Executive Order that raises the minimum wage to $10.15 an hour for employees of certain state contractors.
The employees covered the Executive Order include:
Employees who: (1) directly perform services or construction; or (2) directly perform services for the Commonwealth and are employed by a lessor of property to the Commonwealth; or (3) spend at least 20 percent of their working time in a given work week performing an ancillary service called for in a new lease of property or contract for services or construction exceeding the applicable small purchase threshold entered into with a Commonwealth agency under the jurisdiction of the Governor, including bilateral modifications to existing such leases or contracts, after the effective date of this Executive Order.
According to a 6ABC Action News report:
[The Executive Order] also will affect a narrow set of state contracts – potentially 109 vendors that provide janitorial, landscaping, delivery and food preparation services – that does not include hospitals, nursing care or state universities, administration officials said. The overall cost to the state and its contractors was projected at just above $4 million.
Executive Order No. 2016-02, which takes effect on July 1, 2016, for employees of state contractors, can be found here.
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.