Monday, August 16, 2010

St. Rep. Jordan Asks Inspector General for Review of OSFC Procurement Practices

Columbus—State Representative Kris Jordan (R-Powell) today submitted a letter to the Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles, outlining his concerns about the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC)’s furniture procurement practices and asking for a thorough review of the process.

“In light of your recent report, Richard Murray’s refusal to resign and Governor Strickland’s refusal to remove him, I believe this issue should be examined in greater detail to ensure there are no other questionable practices by the commission or its director,” wrote Jordan in his letter. “I do not want cronyism to become the norm by which the state conducts its business.”

Jordan’s concerns outline a common practice of “spec-ing backward” in which design professionals or architects establish furniture specifications that make it impossible for all but one vendor to participate in the bidding process. This tactic eliminates competition from other companies (as required by Ohio statute) and raises the overall price of a project. Jordan listed his concerns surrounding bids in the Hubbard, Elyria, Akron City, and Liberty Union school districts, among others.

In a June memo, the OSFC outlined steps the commission would take to provide greater oversight of the process. However, Jordan’s letter airs concerns that these steps have not been taken and that the problem still exists.

Director Murray was deeply criticized this month by the Inspector General after an investigation into multiple improper activities, including encouraging discord amongst union and non-union labor and contractors, participating in inappropriate meetings with union officials and school officials to promote project labor agreements (PLAs), making design and personnel decisions based on his union bias, and promoting PLAs for renovation projects for the Ohio Schools for the Deaf and Blind, among others.