Company protests Cleveland schools bid practices
Dear Mr. Editor
I am the Vice President of Government Sales at SHEA PC. We were the low bidder on the computer bid [for the City of Cleveland school system.] We were $10,000.00 lower than the winning bid, which is a company called PCS located 78 miles away. We protested this bid based on meeting all requirements of the bid and exceeded them in some areas.
In regards to our protest, no one from the Board called me and finally after three days with no response, Mr. Denning's secretary said a letter would be sent. I requested a faxed copy of the letter and they declined. Finally after waiting seven days for the mail I received a fax of the letter stating the Supreme Court approved a law that states that the discerning of the "best" lies solely with those requesting the bid and not the bidder. I understand the ruling but why do you spend $10,000.00 more for the same exact product with a 5-year warranty that exceeds the specification? I can understand the concerns of an out of state company but we enclosed an article stating we are the 34th largest Intel System Builder in the country. We provided references with installed bases of 1000 or more systems throughout the country. I confirmed none of our references were called. The company that the bid was awarded had none of these credentials. Sometimes the public feels they should keep the money in the city but this company is 80 miles away. Even if it was in the city, can you the taxpayer justify an extra ten to twelve thousand dollars more for the same product when in the same school board meeting they are saying all items they need to buy?
That is the question I ask? The Board has made it clear that they will never do business with us again and their attorney Charles Kagle has already contacted me and is going to send out to all counties not to do business with us. I think I have hit a nerve because if you had nothing to hide why would you act in this manner? The sad thing about this is the money along with the savings for the additional two years of warranty would save the schools about $15,000.00. During these hard times, we as a computer supplier know how tight budgets are. In some situations this money can save a teacher's job or an administration position. The schools could buy another lab of computers for the same price you are paying for the higher bid. It is clear from the last school board meeting that you are in need of a roof, windows and a cafeteria. They are requesting money from you the tax payer yet they spend an extra $15,000 for the same specified computers. Now the board wants more money from you.
If I could get some feeling that they were saving you money or something I wouldn't be writing this. In the letter back to me they stated that they did make a mistake and they were going to award an additional five points which still left us one point short. Funny how that score happened to be one point short. I know there is no chance of us winning a bid with your district. Mr. Denning stated that because of my protest questioning their local bias, that we were interested in a one-time sale and we have damaged any possibility of a long-term relationship. What Mr. Denning does not understand is that he went out for a public bid, which is the opportunity for everyone to give your school district the best price and warranty for the equipment stated in the bid. You received the best price and when we question this in the form of a legal process we are considered attacking and told not to call Mr. Denning despite calling him a few times with no response. To question a bid in the form of a protest is the American way to make sure that it is an equal playing field. I have been given the response of the District to our protest and frankly if someone spends $10,000.00 more for the same product I as a taxpayer would want to know. It is clear that there are no checks and balances and they can do whatever they want unless you know. Well you know now and now it is your decision to say something so this stops. I guess a bigger question is, if they are doing this with computers where else are they doing it? With people being laid off daily and budgets being cut, the additional spending must stop.
SHEA-PC, Eagan, MN.