Robert Morris, America’s First Procurement Officer. War effort financier, Superintendent of Finance (succeeded by Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury) and the United States Agent of Marine (Master of the Navy), retired from public as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Portrait by Robert Edge Pine (c. 1720-188). Photo of art by cliff1066-Flickr.

Kent County citizens take notice: the Kent County Commissioners are moving towards procurement reform.

The Kent IT Department’s recent misallocation of $100,000 in Coronavirus Relief Funds that would bring high speed Internet to the Big Woods neighborhood drew the ire of the commissioners when they discovered that two contractors could wire the community with their own funds.

Further investigation by the commissioners revealed that competition for fiber optic Internet could speed up access to citizens and save the County substantial money.

Procurement of public services, when needed, should be transparent. Expanding Internet access is a top priority of the commissioners. If the commissioners should need to entice providers to wire an area, then a bidding process should be used so taxpayers get the best value for their tax dollars.

It is best to have a bid selection process based on clearly drawn procurement specifications that are properly advertised — and encourage the broadest participation and fairness in the selection process.

The Government must serve the interests of the citizens and act as a strict fiduciary of taxpayer funds. An effective procurement system separates the initial procurement solicitation and decision-making from the departmental staff who must work with contractors. A transparent procurement system should create healthy walls of separation that reduce the chances of government employees establishing special relationships with contractors that could create an atmosphere of favoritism.

Feature image: Photo of bid opening from 1962 General Services Administration publication. Source: gsa.gov.

The Kent Pilot