Best Practices Guidelines Update
February 10, 2011
Following the March 4, 2010 release of the report from the New Jersey State Comptroller, “Best Practices for Award of Service Contracts” Scarinci Hollenbeck allerted our public clients to the likelihood that the State Comptroller would likely use it as a benchmark procedure for municipalities to follow when awarding municipal service contracts otherwise exempt from public bidding. We recommended strict compliance with the procedures set forth in the report, created a checklist and training template consistent with the report, and warned that there might be consequences for non compliance. We were right!
Less than one year later, on February 1, 2011, the Office of the State Comptroller notified the City of Hoboken that their “fair and open” process did not comply with their the State’s “Best Practices” guidelines as follows:
The City failed to convene an evaluation committee to score the competing proposals.
Although the City’s RFQs clearly stated the selection criteria, the City did not document its evaluations using that criteria.
The City failed to use scoring sheets to document how the proposals were scored by each member of the evaluation committee.
The City officials involved in the award process were not provided with any instructions, guidelines or procedures to guide their award decisions consistent with “best practices.”
The City failed to maintain written recommendations concerning which vendors should receive the contracts awarded as a result of the evaluation.
The State has required the City of Hoboken to prepare a detailed action plan to explain how they will address these issues. The state will continue to monitor the city and required the city to provide 30 days advance notice before advertisement of any future professional service contracts.
We again most urgently recommend that you review your procedures for awarding professional service contracts and adopt a procedure with training to comply with the “best practice” guidelines. We are available to assist you if needed.
This Scarinci Hollenbeck Legal Update has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.