City Purchasing Boss: Fire Department Wrong On Merger Contract 'Tie'

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

The Honolulu Fire Department appears to have misinterpreted city procurement policy when it determined scores needed to be changed to break a tie between the top two bidders for a contract to evaluate merging the HFD with the Emergency Services Department.

Budget and Fiscal Services Director Mike Hansen and Purchasing Division Administrator Wendy Imamura told Civil Beat Friday individual scoresheets should be tallied up to come up with a single total score for each bidder. They would not discuss the specific implications for the $175,000 merger evaluation contract because that procurement is the subject of an ongoing Ethics Commission investigation, but Hansen's and Imamura's general statements contradict the Fire Department's contention that each evaluator's scoresheet should be counted as a vote for his or her top-ranked option, and that the bidder with the most votes wins.

"With individual scoresheets, yes, you would add the total scores of each evaluation committee member, and the vendor with the high score is presumably the best qualified," Imamura said in an interview at Honolulu Hale. "To me, it's just plain logic and common sense that if you have individual scoresheets, you take the aggregate. Why else would you have individual scoresheets?"

But the city has never put down on paper those policies and procedures for the qualification-evaluation process used to award professional services contracts across many Honolulu agencies. That cataloging process started within the last few months, but it's being tackled during spare time.

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