County’s contract award lacked transparency
The lack of transparency in the awarding of a Bexar County contract aimed at helping small and minority-owned businesses compete for county business raises serious concerns at many levels.
For starters the contract did not go through a committee that generally signs off on such contracts. Commissioners also made an unusual move in approving undesignated funds for this unsolicited project, rather than waiting to include it the new fiscal budget that begins in October.
In mid-June Bexar County commissioners approved a $371,750 contract with the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce on an unsolicited bid proposal on a pilot program. The county has since suspended funding after multiple stakeholders raised questions about the contractor’s ability to do the job, the Express-News reported.
County commissioners did not raise some of these issues before voting and took the extra steps to vet the vendor’s capabilities only after it was questioned by others. This is worrisome.
Elected officials wear many hats and are called upon to cast votes on a wide range of issues, thus making an advisory committee an indispensable asset. The county’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program Advisory Committee generally weighs in on such contracts. It was bypassed.
This only fuel speculation about backroom dealings and erodes the public trust.
Advisory committee members, who are generally well-vetted, offer nonbinding recommendations. Recommendations come after thorough review and sifting through facts on any given issue.
Whether the selected vendor in this particular case is properly equipped to perform the tasks required under the contract is open to debate. But the bigger concern here is commissioners’ failure to abide by standard operating procedure in dealing with such contracts.