Sarasota News Leader

09/28/12

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Sarasota News Leader September 28, 2012 Among other measures designed to prevent problems like those that mired the county in a purchasing scandal more than a year ago, the revised ordinance would include an Ethical Standards section — something the current ordinance lacks, Coyman pointed out. Kim Wiles, the project manager in the Pro- curement Department, explained that the proposals presented to the commission this week combined recommendations from the National Institute of Governmental Purchas- ing and Sarasota County Clerk of Court Karen Rushing as well as those made after the RSM McGladrey accounting and consulting firm re- viewed county practic- es in 2010. A Sept. 20 memo to the commission from Coy- man says the county's current procurement code "is laden with process and procedure best placed in a man- ual," a fact identified in the NIGP report the commission authorized after Procurement Department improprieties were discovered in the spring of 2011. Coyman's memo adds, "The proposed new code will properly set policy and a revised Procurement Manual will delineate ministe- rial process." Along with the new section on ethics, Coymen set out the following as other key changes in the code: • "A section for threshold levels and procure- ment standards has been created to clearly illustrate appropriate procurement meth- ods." Page 17 • "A new section for suspension or debar- ment has been created which creates conse- quences for failure to perform or violation of the Procurement Code and incorporates an appeal process using a hearing officer." LOCAL PREFERENCE PRACTICES During the discussion of the local preference section, Coyman told the board, "This is the most-questioned aspect of all the vendor pro- cesses." I think we need to talk to the trade organizations on this one … if we're truly going to have a valid local preference. County Commissioner Joe Barbetta Moreover, he said, NIGP had recommended the commissioners reconsider inclusion of the policy. "It does create an imperfect com- petition because it in- terferes with free mar- ket." Nonetheless, Coyman said, most local gov- ernments utilize local preference measures in awarding contracts. To illustrate problems with the current code, Coyman read the section regarding the vari- ous criteria a company had to meet to be con- sidered for local preference. For example, it has to maintain a permanent physical pres- ence in Sarasota County or in Manatee, Char- lotte or DeSoto counties. The company must have had its office open for one full year and it must have paid the local business tax. Additionally, that local office has to have at least one full-time employee, and 50% of the employees at the local business location must have their principal domicile in one of the above counties.

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