Group aims to clean up government bids
eagle county correspondent
EAGLE COUNTY ” Almost 125,000 signatures were submitted earlier this week to put a proposal on the November ballot that would keep no-bid government contractors from contributing to political candidates.
The Clean Government Colorado initiative, which would appear on the ballot as Amendment 54, is aimed to clean up ethical conflicts in government and help taxpayers know where their money is being spent, said campaign chairman Tom Lucero.
The practice of granting contracts to companies that have contributed to the campaigns of government officials without going through a public bid process is unethical and drives costs up, he said.
Almost $400 million in no-bid contracts were granted by Colorado government agencies over the past year, Lucero said.
The campaigners are researching instances of such contracts across the state and have found no-bid contracts widely used for everything from construction to consulting services to bonding for large projects.
While there are no proven cases in Summit or Eagle counties, there are several local projects that campaign researchers will be investigating.
“No one has yet been able to point me to an example where one government was looking for a service so specialized that only one company could provide it,” Lucero said. “All the instances we are finding, the government agency could very easily have looked for some bids.”
Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu said it is unlikely the county has such cases because of a resolution passed in 2006 that requires the county to shop for bids with projects costing over a certain amount.
“I think this would have very little effect on the county,” he said.
In Eagle County, three to five bids are required for construction projects over $50,000 and for equipment and products more than $25,000. For projects and purchases less than that, three informal bids or quotes are required.
A request for information or a proposal is suggested for “professional services” that cost more than $10,000, according to county documents.
However, the resolution allows for exceptions. Treu said that exceptions can be made with companies the government has worked with before who will give a competitive price, or when there isn’t enough time to go through the negotiation process.
Amendment 54 was introduced following the Regional Transportation District of Denver’s light-rail project several years ago.
“There were significant contributions from companies who contributed and then got no-bid contracts in that case,” Lucero said.
Seven other states have similar legislation.
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