Discussion: RFP Vendor Proposals
LEGISLATIVE INTERIM COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL FINANCE
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09:10 AM -- Discussion: RFP Vendor Proposals
Rep Garnett opened up discussion of the two proposals. The chair stated his hope that a vote can be taken to select the vendor. The chair would like to get a majority vote to make the selection. Rep Garnett described RFP process used by staff explained that two of the three vendors who stated an intent to reply partnered to combine one of the proposals. Rep Hamner expressed concerned that the committee only received two proposals, and asked staff if we put the budget amount into the RFP. Staff replied that the total budget for the vendor was included in the RFP, in addition to being publically stated in both the fiscal note, and the appropriation clause for the enrolled act.
Sen Gardner remarked that the scope of work and the budget amount was likely an impediment to many major firms. The senator opined that the committee was fortunate to get two proposals.
Rep Leonard asked how the RFP was marketed and who received the request. In addition to staff's efforts to post the proposal and send it to interested sources, Sen Hill responded that he personally called several firms and found that scope and pay kept some vendors from responding, echoing Sen Gardner's observation.
Mr. Abram, LCS, discussed some of the process steps used to release and market the RFP.
Rep Garnett asked how members want to discuss the proposals.
Chair then opened the floor for general discussion by the committee. Sen Gardner shared his experience that there might be a need for an executive session to discuss vendor contracts. Rep Garnett asked Brita Darling, OLLS, to help the committee think through the necessity and appropriateness of an executive session for the vendor selection. Siting statute, both Brita Darling and Julie Pelegrin from OLLS do not believe selection of a vendor for the interim committee meet the criteria for "matters required to be kept confidential", and do not see an obvious exception that would allow the committee to discuss the vendor proposals in executive session.
Rep Leonard suggested that perhaps a subcommittee could address the work. Rep Leonard further opined that there is enough funding in the RFP, and the scope of work is still an issue to be defined, which would then inform the creation of criteria for selecting the vendor. Rep Leonard's concern isn't that the committee doesn't have enough funding in RFP, rather that the committee does nodt have good criteria for evaluating and selecting from the proposals.
Rep Garnett discussed the possibility of moving the process to an interview phase, but acknowledged that the committee may be running out of time to create a subcommittee. Sen Gardner also remarked that a sub committee must conduct itself in an open meeting, and therefore would not create the circumstance for an executive session. The senator reiterated that we are unlikely to receive more proposals, even if the committee opened up the process and re-posted the RFP.
Rep Garnett asked if there is a way to get a definitive answer concerning the executive session? Julie Pelegrin answered she does not see an exception for the Executive Session statute that would alow the committee to discuss the vendor proposals in an executive session. These conversations must remain part of the open meeting. Julie Peregrin informed the committee that she will continue to ask open meeting experts at OLLS and return to the committee if there is a different interpretation.
Rep Hamner asked if bill allows us to reopen the process? If the dollar amount available to fund a vendor limited the proposals, is there a way to put more money into the process from the JBC?
Rep Garnett wondered if the committee can access extra money to "sweeten the deal"? Rep Leonard would like to create some criteria by which to evaluate the vendor and possibly task a subcommittee to do some of that evaluation first and then present to the fuller committee; Rep Leonard also asked if the scope can be scaled back to make the work more manageable, perhaps making it easier for the committee to arrive at an informed decision.
Sen Gardner remarked that both proposals seemed to want to "drive the train" and that the committee should remain focused on being sure that the committee continues to drive the agenda, not the vendor.
Rep Lundeen echoed that the committee was created as a balanced / fair/ and bi partisan and is troubled that proposals aim to set the agenda. Also felt that since the committee has 2 interims, it is more likely to get something done when past efforts failed by running out of time between sessions. He also had a process question: do chair(s) have flexibility to select? Could decision be given to the chairs?
Rep Garnett wants to be as inclusive as possible; wants to keep all voices and input into the process. If we bump up against those deadlines, perhaps this can force the decision and chairs can be tasked with making the final decision.
Jule Pelegrin reiterated that there is no exception to allow the committee to use an executive session to discuss / select a vendor. The chair could work with staff at the point of contracting without a public meeting.
The committee recessed