Reverse auctions leave unanswered questions

By PAT BROWN,

I t is a nobel effort to attempt to rein in government spending, but first the politicians need a little reining. 

  The more transparency of the elected boards the better, and that idea is ok until you are discussing you and I.  If you don’t believe it attend some of your local governmental meetings and try to find out what is going on.

  “We need to go into executive session to discuss that” is the most common term that echoes through so many meetings.  Or, that is “personnel or litigation.”  NEWSFLASH-that does not meet the standard of executive session.  Contrary to the advise some folks are doling out. 

  Reverse bid in the purest sense would probably be a good thing.  However, the current bid laws are skirted so much that this is probably not going to be effective. 

  Just ask folks like Chris Epps, who rigged the system so he did not have to be transparent.  He then set himself up for one of the largest embezzlement cases in the history of the State of Mississippi through the state’s correctional system.  There is another problem  you have, items are considered to be sole-source and there is no one else who can bid this item.  Or you can declare a state of emergency, this too will get you around the bid process. 

  Reverse auction has the governmental entity offering service or items they need or want for bid.  A base price is established on items of $50,000 or more.  The vendors are then given the opportunity to bid down to their lowest acceptable bid price.  They can see other bids, just not who is bidding. 

  There was an effort to make exception for certain items.  The appeal was made to the Public Procurement Review Board.  However, the Attorney General issued an opinion that there should be no exceptions.  So, the Department of Finance and Administration will be establishing guidelines and rules for the new system with the plan of implementation of January 1, 2018.  The Department of Information and Technology Services will be working with the Department of Finance to establish the new system. 

  Here is an interesting twist, we contacted the State Department of Finance and asked if they allowed businesses the opportunity to bid on creation of the site.  We did not get an answer only the chance to leave a message.

  We are of the opinion if governmental agencies were open and transparent as they should be, there would be no need to establish new rules or guidelines for services offered.  As it stands now, current law says you have to advertise items for bid that government agencies want to purchase through newspapers.  But this service that is being mandated is going to cost someone some money, and that is another issue that is not settled. 

  We are in hopes this new system will work smoothly.  However, there are a lot of issues to be settled.