Trustees Demand 'Apples to Apples' Approach to Township Bid Process
A one-item agenda resulted in a two-hour meeting as township trustees discussed the future of the township's phone service.
Confusion, with a hint of frustration, was the principal emotion at the Macomb Township board of trustees special meeting Thursday.
While the meeting started as a standard discussion of service bids to update or replace the phone service used in Township Hall, the conversation became increasingly complex as more parties added their own questions and explanations.
“It seems to me we’re talking about scrambled eggs right now,” said Trustee Dino Bucci. “You’ve got AT&T, who doesn’t know what they bid on, you’ve got a gentleman here who represents the line of the company that he sells for and then you have another individual who doesn’t even make the meeting. So I’ve got a lot of nothing here to be perfectly honest.”
Working with Telegration, a telecommunications solution provider, township IT Director Jim Koss asked the board to consider bids from service providers AT&T, PAETEC and TelNet to supply the township hall’s PRI, or primary phone service.
However, it soon became apparent that it would be impossible for the board to compare the bids of each company in an “apples to apples” manner.
“(These companies) provide different types of solutions,” Koss said. “They don’t all match up apples to apples. Some focus their attention on saving customers money in different areas and it’s very difficult to get three identical companies offering the same services to compare on prices. One company may not provide a service.”
To further complicate matters, representatives of AT&T present at the meeting informed the board that the bid received from Telegration in the name of AT&T was not, in fact, what AT&T would quote a government entity.
“What you have today was not set up by an AT&T direct seller,” said Brandon Pizzuti, AT&T Michigan sales manager. “It was set up by an authorized distributor again.”
This discrepancy led Bucci to question the entire bid process.
“We’re not comparing apples to apples,” he said. “How is this a fair bid process when no one knows what their bidding on?”
Having only received bids through Telegration, township Clerk Michael Koehs said he, too, was uncomfortable with selecting a bid from information provided by, in reality, one vendor.
“We want this clearly sent out apples to apples at the best possible rate,” said Supervisor Mark Grabow. “We want the best option available line-by-line, so we can go through and pick the items we want. I want the best options for the township and I don’t need the redundancies. I want the best quality with the lowest (price). I want it all.”
Although the township hall’s phone contract was set to expire only days from Thursday’s meeting, the board asked Koss to resubmit a selection of bids, organized line-by-line, for the board to consider “apples to apples” at its April 13 meeting.
The ideal bid would provide a short-term solution to the hall’s phone services as well as provide a foundation for the expansion of future technology.
At all costs, the board expressed its wish that whoever the future service provider may be, it ensure that the township never again experience the two-day phone outage which occurred a few months ago.