The head of the state Department of Administrative Services on Friday cancelled three requests for proposals to procure state radio communications equipment in the wake of questions raised by state lawmakers over the bidding process.
Agency director Mike Carroll said the decision was made after consultation with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. The bid requests were for the purchase of radio equipment, lease of radio network infrastructure and purchase of radio network infrastructure, he said.
“DAS will be restructuring these (bid requests) and consolidating them into a single (request for proposals) in an effort to maximize economies of scale and to ensure the most efficient possible use of taxpayer dollars,” according to a department email that was issued Friday. “DAS remains committed to a process that ensures fairness for the vendor community and competitiveness on behalf of Iowa taxpayers.”
Carroll said his department and the other state agencies procuring the communications items would work immediately to identify and work with an independent consultant to generate a new bid request to complete the purchase of radios and a radio network.
Earlier this month, Carroll told a legislative committee he is decertifying all the procurement officers in executive-branch agencies and requiring that they be retrained in the wake of questions raised about the bidding process for some state contracts.
Carroll said the procurement process deserves to be managed properly. He expressed concern that the process had been decentralized to the point where he felt “we just need to make sure we know who is certified and how they’re certified and what their knowledge base is so we’re more comfortable with the people that are actually purchasing in the state.”
Among the concerns raised during a Senate State Government Committee meeting were complaints by state legislators and law enforcement radio vendors that bid requests for communication radios for various state agencies have been intentionally uncompetitive with unusually exacting specifications. Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, said he expects lawmakers will pass legislation this session designed to tighten the state’s bidding process and restore trust that bidders will receive fair treatment when competing for government contracts.