County to Review Contracting Policy

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed staffers to review how sole source contracts get awarded and consider new limits on the use of no-bid agreements.

The board approved the review after Supervisor Hilda Solis said the Sheriff’s Department request — on Tuesday’s agenda — to renew a contract with DataWorks Plus for its digital mug shot technology was an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate the way things are done.

The department had asked for approval to extend the contract for another seven years.

“Sole source agreements should be the exception and not the rule,” Solis said. “I understand people get comfortable and familiar with existing vendors but that can lead to exclusion and a lack of transparency.”

Current policy typically limits no-bid contracts to items or services that are only available from one source, like proprietary technology, or in emergency situations where there is no time for a bidding process.

According to Solis and fellow Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, sole source contracts have led to higher costs for the county because of a lack of competition.

“By circumventing the competitive solicitation process, this practice effectively precludes many vendors, especially new, small and/or minority or women-owned businesses from competing for county contracts,” Solis said.

The board directed the Sheriff’s Department to solicit bids for a mug shot system and approved renewal of the DataWorks contract for only four years.

The board also directed the county’s interim chief executive officer, the interim director of the Internal Services Department and the director of Public Works to review the sole use agreement policy now in place and report back on how best to limit the use of no-bid contracts.

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