We need a Serious Review of the County RFP Process

Posted August 29th, 2017 @ 8:21 AM by

You all remember the drama with Tenant Resource Center and United Way staff scoring . . . .looks like the new day resource center has many of the same issues . . . and its not pretty. If you ask me, the city shouldn’t give them another penny, this is on the county and their stupid secretive process. Their staff had the information and knew what they were doing, they should pick up the costs.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the following numbers:
– City and county pledged to fund $330,000 for 2017 ($130,000 from the county, $100,000 from United Way and the City, but United Way gave $50,000 and the county $180,000)
– Catholic Charities pledged $150,000 for 2017
– Catholic Charities submitted a project for $680,000 for 2018
– There is a $200,000 gap for 2018 which “could put the opening in jeopardy”
– Joe Parisi is asking each funder to provide $172,000, without that there will be a $135,000 shortfall
– The United Way is considering more depending upon hour their campaign goes
– The City put $110,000 in their budget

Remember, the county doesn’t let elected officials or anyone else for that matter see the submissions for the RFP until AFTER a CONTRACT IS SIGNED. That means the county board (and everyone else) never sees the proposals the county board is voting on. They are denied that information until after a contract is signed, then the information is made available to the elected officials and the public. Yes, you read that right, the public and our elected officials see no information before the decision is made. Only afterwards, when a contract is signed, and its a done deal, are we given the information the staff have seen. So, its not a surprise the city didn’t know that the Beacon would cost this much, they were in the dark with the rest of us. This seems like blackmail to me. Ok, you approved this project, we won’t tell you how much it will cost and later we’ll surprise you with a higher amount of money and you’ll just have to pay it because you really wanted that project.

Here’s the Catholic Charities Proposal
Here’s the Dane County Development Group (Dane County Housing Authority)

Catholic Charities wrote their entire qualifications section without mentioning any services they provide specifically for homeless people. Not. once. All they could say is that in their other programs, they sometimes serve homeless persons. And that they have been learning and intend to get actively involved in the Homeless Services Consortium (we have yet to see that). Their references were United Way, Madison Schools and Nehemiah.

Dane County Development Group regularly worked with homeless people getting housing through their Section 8 program and public housing and then worked with people to not become homeless again. They built a coalition and had the backing of and references from Salvation Army, YWCA, the Road Home, Housing Initiatives, Apartment Association, First United Methodist Church, Madison Urban Ministry, Tenant Resource Center, Movin’ Out, Friends of the State St. Family, MACH One Health, Heartland Alliance, Dane County Sheriff Mahoney, League of Women Voters, WisCares Veterinary Services, Madison Homelessness Inititiative, Journey Mental Health and Larkspur Collaborative Coaching. Plus, they had people on their board who had lots of experience in homelessness including: Judy Wilcox, Dan O’Callaghan, Joanne Kelley, Shenise Morgan and Sarah Gillmore. They had essentially the whole homeless services community behind them and they are involved in the Homeless Services Consortium – their director serves on the board.

United Way
That’s right, I’m calling shenanigans! On two counts!!!

Here’s the scoring sheet – take a look for yourself: RFP 166065 – Eval Scoring

Note, the number one reference for Catholic Charities is United Way of Dane County. And guess what, the scorer for Dane County gave Catholic Charities 100% of the points they could have been awarded – no one else did . . . hmmmmm. That’s correct, remember . . . Deedra Atkinson, well, she did it again.

Statement of Qualifications = 200 points
Atkinson’s scores . . .
Catholic Charities = 200 points
Dane County Development Group = 120

The highest scores anyone else gave was 160.

Project Approach and timeline = 400 points
Atkinson’s scores . . .
Catholic Charities = 400 points
Dane County Development Group = 200

The highest score anyone else got was 360 (county staff gave that to Catholic Charities, Marsha Rummel gave it to Dane County Development Group)

With these scores alone, Catholic Charities has 500.80 points, Dane County Development Group had 420. If you throw out the biased scores from Atkinson it could have been
CC = 150 (instead of 160)
DCDG = 140 (instead of 136)

Project Approach and Timeline
CC = 326 (instead of 340)
DCDB = 305 (instead of 284)

CC = 476 (instead of 500)
DCDG = 445 (instead of 420)

In other words: pretty close, competitive

County Purchasing? Catholic Charities?
Here’s the second part of the shenanigans . . . .

Remember, Catholic Charities got this award because of the resources they bring to the table. And resources = money!

Both got 50 points for local vendor preference.

Catholic Charities has a $538,123 budget and said they were bringing $175,000 to the table. $81,000 in admin costs.

Dane County Development Group had a $441,141 budget and said they had $72,326 to bring to the table. $32,677 in admin costs.

For scoring, here’s what “they” – who I’m not sure – did:
Total Cost
CC = 245
DCDG = 300

Outside Support
CC = 100 (note, they brought about 25% of the budget the county couldn’t afford to the table)
DCDG = 41 (note, they brought about 14% of the budget the county could afford to the table)

Final scores from the evaluators:
896 to 811

I think the county board would have questioned the scoring. The final scores were close, even with the shenanigans. I don’t know why Dane County Housing Authority scored so low on their “outside support” and if you throw out the Atkinson scores it becomes
CC = 871 (as opposed to 896)
DCDG = 836 (as opposed to 811)

Add some points back for “outside support” and consider the Catholic Charities unrealistic budget and much higher admin costs and . . . we’d have a different contract with a different vendor. If you get 100 points for bringing 25% of an over-budget proposal to the table, then you should get 56 points for “outside resources” if you take a straight percentage. And if you get full points for a budget that is realistic, then if you come in 98,000 over that budget you should only get

CC = 871
DCDG = 836 + (56-41.33 = 14) = 850 points

That’s a 21 point spread in 1050 points . . . and if you consider the administrative costs of each of the groups . . . I’d give more points again to DCDG or take some points from CC.

Had the county board been able to see this information, who do you think they would have chosen? Based on total cost, I think it would have been Dane County Development Group. Or at least there would have been an explicit and understood conversation about how the difference was going to be made up. I don’t think the county board would have kicked in the additional cash to get this provider – why should they do it now?

(ok, go easy on me if I screwed up any of this math . . . but please let me know! There’s bound to be a mistake somewhere.)

How many other times were shenanigans at play? How many times would the county board, had they had this kind of information, made a different decision about a Dane County Human Services contract? Why is the county so afraid of the sunshine? I suspect its because if people have information, the staff and county executive can’t control the outcome. Shenanigans . . . the public deserves better. Yeah, Nan Cheney would say “Do Better”!!!

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