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Council approves agenda posting changes

Friday, September 24, 2010 by Austin Monitor

City Council passed a resolution Thursday that changes the way it awards contracts by expanding the posting language in its agendas. Instead of automatically awarding a contract to the company ranked highest by city staff, Council will be able to pick a vendor ranked as second or third in staff ratings — as long as that vendor is one of those named in the agenda.

 

The reason for making the change, according to Council Member Bill Spelman, who sponsored the resolution, is that in cases where Council chooses a vendor other than the one recommended by staff, they must wait for another session of Council to do so because all the eligible vendors are not usually listed on the agenda.

 

“In the interest of making this a simpler, cleaner, faster process for everybody, the resolution only calls for a very small change that the posting language allows the City Council to choose any of the responsible bidders for those situations where it already has the authority but rarely chooses to execute it on the day in which that issue first comes up,” Spelman said. “It’s extremely rare that we’ll go with anything other than the staff recommendation, and there’s nothing in the posting language that will change that at all.”

 

City Purchasing Officer Byron Johnson, questioned on the proposed change by Spelman, said that if Council wants extensive information on every vender to be including in the backup materials for Council agendas, it might mean 10 hours of extra work for each solicitation — a huge burden on city staffers.

 

Spelman then asked how much extra work it would be to simply include a one-page summary of relevant data on responsive vendors. Johnson replied that such a request would only mean an hour or less for each solicitation.

 

There are about 140 contracts annually that the resolution could apply to, Johnson said, and if council only wants information on specific vendors, staff could incorporate that information into Council agendas on a case by case basis without creating significantly more work for staff. Johnson estimated it might create 120 to 140 hours of extra work for staff, which he said was, “a small number… very easily doable.”

 

“What they want to do is have the opportunity for them to be listed,” Johnson said. “And then they can notify us in advance and we can get them very specific information on just that particular vendor.”

 

The resolution will affect the posting language of only about half of the contracts Council awards; the other half will not change because state law stipulates that City Council must choose the lowest responsible bidder.

 

Contractors and members of the public did not show up to comment on the posting change.

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