Advice for companies to avoid acquisition pitfalls
Those rebuilding after wildfires need services, but how to choose providers? Homeowners may hire contractors based on word of mouth, friendship, the first name in a printed phone directory, simple availability or a bidding process — but a brand new company with a super- low bid may not be the best pick.
The difficulty is compounded if you’re a government agency in need of services or equipment and it’s taxpayer money that’s being spent. Such agencies need to develop a transparent and ethical system of evaluating bids and making fair choices.
Enter William Sims Curry, principal consultant of WSC Consulting in Chico, whose award-winning handbooks help agencies avoid acquisition pitfalls. His newest is “Contracting For Services In State And Local Government Agencies: Best Practices For Public Procurement, Third Edition5 in $74.9 hardcover from Routledge; also for Amazon Kindle).
Updated with new terminology and software procurement examples, the book focuses on 48 (18 more than in the previous edition) “best public procurement practices” gleaned from a 2021 survey of agencies and educational institutions around the country and analysis of the forms they require.
Some practices are simple, like requiring contractors to use four-digit years, and some complex, like monitoring contractor progress. While federal processes have “centralized codification,” “state and local public procurement … has a dearth of national regulation” which has led to the development of “diverse procurement practices that range from enlightened to foolhardy.”
Curry is a certified professional contracts manager and “was on the Board of Directors for the Industry Council for Small Business Development, a not-for-profit corporation established to assist small, small-disadvantaged, and women-owned small businesses.” His chapters take the reader through competitive procurement, contract negotiations, “terms and conditions,” and final review. Central is Curry’s concern for ethical processes.
He offers the account of a novice “public procurement specialist” on his first job where “he was exposed to an outrageous offer from a prospective contractor on his first business trip,” little perks that were a “blatant attempt to gain his loyalty.” That made a big impact on the author.
Bottom line: Those who curry favor by favoring Curry had better not.
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. Send review requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns archived at https://barnetto.substack.com