City needs firm with both engineering and PR skills
As the chief procurement officer of the City and County of Honolulu, I must set the record straight regarding the series of groundless accusations and innuendos raised by Councilman Charles Djou and Kitty Lagareta regarding the procurement of professional services for the city's high-capacity transit corridor study.
Djou has stated repeatedly that he received no explanation regarding the reduced role of Lagareta, his political ally, in the study. At the Oct. 27 City Council Transportation Committee meeting, Transit Division Chief Toru Hamayasu explained the qualifications-based selection process used to procure the services for the study. That was in executive session with corporation counsel, held in private only because Lagareta had already threatened to sue. Out of the nine Council members who attended, only Djou claims that he has not received any explanation.
Djou has suggested that the professional services contract was procured improperly because it was not based on price, and he has used the term "bid" when referring to the procurement of professional services for the transit study. The term "bid" refers to the competitive sealed bidding method of procurement. Djou should know that the competitive sealed bidding procurement method violates the state procurement law and the Brooks act, which sets the federal procurement requirements for the architectural, engineering and design services needed for the alternatives analysis study.
Thus, the corporation counsel's determination that the procurement for the professional services for the study complied with federal and state requirements.
Nonetheless, Djou asked the state comptroller, the state Procurement Policy Board and the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general to investigate the matter. The comptroller rejected Djou's request last week, saying it is not his or the board's kuleana. We anticipate that DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead will find Djou's allegations groundless.
An executive for Parsons offered Lagareta a reduced role in the transit project after determining that it needed a subcontractor with engineering as well as public relations capabilities.
Lagareta and her partner, who was designated as the task leader for work to be done by Lagareta's company, have benefited from the city's procurement practices in the past. When asked at a recent press conference about this inconsistency, Lagareta did not deny that this had occurred. Lagareta's real complaint, then, is that her role was reduced, because when she benefited by the city's procurement practices in the past, she has not complained.
On any number of issues and at different times in the past, Lagareta has been a friend and supporter of this administration, as has Djou. That does not mean that we agree on all issues and at all times. What is disappointing is the way Lagareta and Djou chose to articulate their disagreement with the reduction of Lagareta's role, immediately casting aspersions about the integrity of the procurement process without understanding the procurement process, and without any evidence of the ethical and legal breaches they claim occurred.
Despite the campaign by Lagareta and Djou to have you believe otherwise, the public should be assured that the city's procurement policies have been honest and in keeping with the letter of the law.
Mary Pat Waterhouse is director of the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services.