NOW some questions about PACE

Public Eye has exclusively learned the premier's office awarded an open-ended contract that paid out $343,425 in fees for services to a Liberal-connected communications firm without competition - a violation of government purchasing guidelines. And the vice-president of that same firm, who has close ties to a government minister, also personally received a separate directly-awarded contract from the premier's office that paid out $47,300 in fees for services. But government is defending those contracts, saying no rules were actually broken.

According to documentation obtained under the province's freedom of information legislation, PACE Communications Group Inc. was awarded a contract on February 13, 2003 to "provide project management services for community information tours." Those projects included tours promoting forest revitalization and the government's Achieve BC educational program.

PACE has extensive connections to the Campbell government. The company's president, ex-Socred aide Norman Stowe, has close ties with senior cabinet minister Stan Hagen - as has PACE vice-president Kathi Springer. Mr. Stowe also worked on Minister Hagen's campaign during the recent election, as well as being one of star Liberal candidate Virginia Greene's media handlers. And Mr. Stowe was a member of the premier's constituency-level campaign committee in 2001.

In an interview, public affairs bureau executive director Andy Orr defended the awarding of the tour contract to PACE without competition by pointing out the company had gone through a screening process to establish a list of qualified communications contractors.

But, according to a confidential memo dated March 1, 2002 and sent from bureau advertising and events manager Moira McDermott to communications directors and senior communications counselors, even if a company went through the screening process "for contracts of more than $25,000 a formal tendering process must be used (three written quotes) and for contracts over $100,000 a formal RFP process must be used." But an RFP process, which invites firms to compete for a contract, was not used confirmed Messrs. Orr and Stowe.

When asked why, Mr. Orr explained the instructions in the memo were meant as guidelines or best practices - not hard-and-fast rules. And, because of the superb work PACE had done promoting the Vancouver Olympic bid "an operational decision was taken to have the firm run future government tours...So, because (the contract) was open-ended that policy recommendation (regarding RFPs) wasn't followed."

Mr. Orr also added PACE is an established communications firm with a good reputation that did business with the previous New Democrat government to the tune of $2.3 million between fiscal 1997/98 and 2000/2001. PACE also has past experience doing cross-province tours.

Also awarded a personal contract from government was firm vice-president Ms. Springer. That award, signed July 31 2003, was to "provide communications consulting services as directed by the Communications Director assigned to Agriculture, Fisheries and Food/Sustainable Resource Management." At that time, Minister Hagen was responsible for sustainable resource management.

The initial value of the contract was under $25,000. And that meant that it could be awarded without going through a competitive process. But, according to a note to file, on October 1 the contract was extended and amended to increase the maximum value by $39,000 to $62,500 - although the final payout came in at $47,300.

"She was working on work that wasn't completed. And she had to do more strategic work at the request of (Minister Hagen). So that contract was extended" - an allowed government procedure said Mr. Orr.

The note to file also states that Ms. Springer received the direct award because "the services required are of a confidential and privileged nature." Mr. Orr said he could not discuss what exactly those services were.

This isn't the first time question-raising contracts have been awarded to PACE. Last week, Public Eye reported Community Living British Columbia, a provincial agency reporting to Minister Hagen, had awarded communications contracts to PACE. The firm is currently fulfilling one of those contracts using the services of Val Richmond, a former Liberal ministerial assistant and daughter of cabinet minister Claude Richmond. A version of this article was originally published in today's edition of 24 hours. The following is a copy of selected documents obtained under the province's freedom of information legislation, as well as the memo.

***

FOI Request FIN-05407

PACE Fiscal Year 2002/03

Fees for Services $28,600.00
Expenses $ -
Total $28,600.00

PACE Fiscal Year 2003/04

Fees for Services $266,825.00
Expenses $37,371.09
Total $304,196.09

PACE Fiscal Year 2004/05

Fees for Services $48,000.00
Expenses $586.46
Total $48,586.47

PACE Total

Fees for Services $343,425.00
Expenses $37,957.56
Total $381,382.56

Kathi Springer Fiscal Year 2003/04

Fees for Services $47,300.00
Expenses $ -
Total $47,300.00

***

Province of British Columbia

Service Contract COPY

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN IN RIGHT OF THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA,
represented by
Office of the Premier

(the "Province","we","us",or "our" as applicable) at the following address:
Public Affairs Bureau
PO Box 9409 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, British Columbia

AND

Pace Group, The

(the "Contractor","you",or"your"as applicable) at the following address:
200-110 Cambie Street
Vancouver, British Columbia

Postal Code: V8W 9V1
Fax Number: 250 387-0718
Post Code: V6B 2M8
Fax Number: 604-689-1808

THE PROVINCE AND THE CONTRACTOR AGREE TO THE TERMS ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS DOCUMENT AND IN THE SCHEDULES OUTLINED BELOW.

SCHEDULE A - SERVICES

Services:

As directed by the Contract Manager, or their designated alternate, the Contractor will provide project management services for community information tours.

Services will include, but not limited to:
- Tour planning
- On-the-road event coordination and management
- Administration and tour logistics

In all cases, materials produced or purchased will become the property of the Province of British Columbia.

Term: From and including 13 February, 2003

To and including: 31 March, 2004

SCHEDULE B - FEES AND EXPENSES

Fees: Refer to the attached Schedule B - Fees & Expenses.

Expenses: To be negotiated. Travel Expenses to be reimbursed in accordance with the attached "Appendix 1 - Group 2 Rates Expenses for Contractors."

Billing Date(s): To be negotiated.

Maximum Amount: Not Applicable

SCHEDULE C - APPROVED SUBCONTRACTORS(S)

Refer to attached Schedule C - Approved Sub-Contractors.

SCHEDULE D - INSURANCE

Not Applicable

SCHEDULE E - ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Refer to attached Schedule E - Additional Terms.

The parties hereto have duly executed this agreement as of the 13 day of Febuary, 2003

SIGNED AND DELIVERED on behalf of the Province by an authroized representative of the Province

Denise Champion (signature)
Authorized Representative

SIGNED AND DELIVERED by or on behalf of the Contractor
(or by an authorized signatory of the Contractor if a corporation)

(signature)
Contractor or Authorized Signatory

Read Terms on Reverse Side

***

SCHEDULE B - Fees & Expenses

The PACE GROUP
Contract #C03PRE767

Prior to commencing work, the Contractor, will submit an estimate f all costs to be incurred by the Contractor in order to complete the project. The estimate will include a detailed breakdown of planning assumptions (number of hours estimated, billing rates, etc.) and should identify sub-contractors where applicable. Billing dates will be negotiated on a project-by-project basis and will be based on actual fees and expenses.

PACE GROUP Fees - based on an 8/hour day:

$ (deleted) per day - Norman Stowe
$ (deleted) per day - Ooan McKinstry
$ (deleted) per day - Kathi Pringer
$ (deleted) per day - Alix Kerr
$ (deleted) per day - Greg Descantes
$ (deleted) per day - Greg Johnsoon
$ (deleted) per day - Chris Stannell
$ (deleted) per day - Sheenah Rogers
$ (deleted) per day - Tara Knight

Expenses to be negotiated on a project-by-project basis and may include:

* Travel costs - in accordance in the attached Appendix 1 - Group 2 Rates Expenses for Contractors;
* Sub-Contractors;
* Other expenses, as pre-approved

Upon approval a "Work Order" will be issued roviding the Contractor with approval to proceed.

Costs not identified in the cost estimate, as well as cost overruns greater than 10%, must be approved by the Manager, Advertising, Marketing and Human Resources prior to the Contractor incurring additional costs. Upon approval of the additional costs a "Change Order" will be issued providing the Contractor with approval to proceed.

Contractor's Intitials

(Intials)

The PACE Group - C03PRE767

Note to File (February 13, 2003)

This contractor has been retained to provide project management services for community information tours. The supplier is on the list of pre-qualified full service communications agencies and was previously retained by LegaciesNow to provide project management services in support of the 2010 LegaciesNow - It's Our Time to Shine community tour. They have extensive knowledge of amenities available in communities throughout the province.

The term of the contract will commence on February 13, 2003 up to and including March 31, 2004. This is a zero dollar value contractor, as the value of the work cannot be estimated until details of the tour are finalized. Costs may vary significantly depending on the number of communities to be visited, the length of the tour, etc. The contractor will submit estimates prior to commencing work.

Note to File (March 31, 2004)

Amend contract to allow for additional services required up to and including June 30, 2004. Extend term of the contract to June 30, 2004 to coincide with the conclusion of the Achieve BC community information tour.

Theresa Lumsdon
Manager, Advertising, Marketing And Human Resources

***

Public Affairs Bureau
Change Order Request

Supplier: The Pace Group
Campaign/Element: Achieve BC/Community Information Tour

Description of Services: On the road coordination, event management and media relations, including planning schedule, booking and confirming malls and schools, coordinating opening events and booking school tours. Ongoing liaison with Team Leader. Distribution and follow-up of media releases. For one month - March, 2004.

Norman Stowe - Account manager (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Oona McKinstry - Accounts Supervisor (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Greg Johnson - Project Coordinator (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Trevor Pancoust - Coordinator/media relations (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Megan Tumbull - Coordinator (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Plus miscellaneous disbursements - approx. $600.00
Plus applicable taxes

Total (Estimated Cost) $16,000.00

To be completed by Public Affairs Bureau

Project #: N0309
Original Work Order #: N0309-00

Denise Champion (signature)
Spending Authority Approval

D.J. Champion
Print Name

Date: Mar 3, 2004

***

Public Affairs Bureau
Change Order Request

Supplier: The Pace Group
Campaign/Element: Achieve BC/Community Information Tour

Description of Services: On the road coordination, event management and media relations, including planning schedule, booking and confirming malls and schools, coordinating opening events and booking school tours. Ongoing liaison with Team Leader. Distribution and follow-up of media releases. For three months (April, May & June 2004)

Norman Stowe - Account manager (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Oona McKinstry - Accounts Supervisor (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Greg Johnson - Project Coordinator (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Trevor Pancoust - Coordinator/media relations (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Megan Tumbull - Coordinator (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
George Lenko - Coordinator (Number of Units, Cost per Unit, Estimated Cost deleted)
Plus miscellaneous disbursements - approx. $2,000
Plus applicable taxes

Total (Estimated Cost) $48,000.00

To be completed by Public Affairs Bureau

Project #: N0309
Original Work Order #: N0309-00

Denise Champion (signature)
Spending Authority Approval

D.J. Champion
Print Name

Date: Mar 10, 2004

***

Public Affairs Bureau
Change Order Request

Supplier: The Pace Group
Campaign/Element: Forestry Revitalization/Community Information Tour

Description of Services: On-the-road tour coordination and event management for November 2003 until end of March 2004 to include: planning and confirming schedule, developing invitation lists and coordinating opening events, and confirming and booking malls and schools tours. On going liaison with team leader and cordinate advertising

Total (Estimated Additional Cost) $57,000.00

To be completed by Public Affairs Bureau

Original Work Order #: N0302-001

Denise Champion (signature)
Spending Authority Approval

D.J. Champion
Print Name

Date: Nov 1, 2004

***

Public Affairs Bureau
Work Order Request

Supplier: PACE Group
Campagain/Element: Forestry Revitalization/Community Information Tour

Description of Services: Design and production of radio and print ads

Per cost estimate dated April 16, 2003

Approved sub-contractor: MBA

Total (Estimated Additional Cost) $24,000.00

To be completed by Public Affairs Bureau

Change Order #: N0302-002

Theresa Lumsdon (signature)
Spending Authority Approval

T. Lumsdon
Print Name

Date: April 25, 2003

***

Public Affairs Bureau
Work Order Request

Supplier: PACE Group
Campaign/Element: Forestry Revitalization/Community Information Tour

Description of Services: On-the-road tour coordination and event management

Per cost estimate dated April 16, 2003

Total (Estimated Additional Cost) $74,000.00

To be completed by Public Affairs Bureau

Change Order #: N0302-001

Denise Champion (signature)
Spending Authority Approval

D.J. Champion
Print Name

Date: April 23, 2003

***

Province of British Columbia

Service Contract

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN IN RIGHT OF THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA,
represented by
Office of the Premier
(the "Province","we","us", or "our" as applicable) at the following address:
Public Affairs Bureau
PO Box 9409 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, British Columbia

Postal Code: V8W 91
Fax Number: 250 387-3534

AND

Springer, Kathi
(the "Contractor","you", or "your" as applicable) at the following address:
518 Hampshire Road
Victoria, British Columbia

Postal Code: V8S 4R8
Fax Number: 250-953-6679

THE PROVINCE AND THE CONTRACTOR AGREE TO THE TERMS ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS DOCUMENT AND IN THE SCHEDULES OUTLINED BELOW:

SCHEDULE A - SERVICES

Services: As directed by the Contract Manager or their designated alternate, the Contractor will provide communications consulting services, as required.

Term: From and including 31 July, 2003

To and including: 31 December, 2003

SCHEDULE B - FEES AND EXPENSES

Fees: Not to exceed, $22,500.00 at a rate of (deleted) for performing the services during the term of this agreement

for

Expenses: Not to exceed $1,000.00 for all pre-approved expenses. Travel Expenses to be reimbursed in accordance with the attached "Appendix 1 - Group 2 Rates Expenses for Contractors."

Billing Date(s): Monthly

Maximum Amount: $23,500.00 is the Maximum Amount of Fees and Expenses which we must pay to you under sections 1 and 2 of this Schedule.

SCHEDULE C - APPROVED SUBCONTRACTORS(S)

The Province reserves the right to approve the sub-contractor when sub-contracting applies.

SCHEDULE D - INSURANCE

Not Applicable

SCHEDULE E - ADDITIONAL TERMS

The Contractor confirms they are eligible for early payment as defined in the Ministry of Management Services Invoices Payment Policy for Contractors.

The parties hereto have duly executed this agreement as of the 31 day of July, 2003

SIGNED AND DELIVERED on behalf of the Province by an authorized representaitve of the Province

Andy Orr (signature)
Authroized Representative

SIGNED AND DELIVERED by or on behalf of the Contractor (or by an authorized signatory of the Contractor if a corporation)

Kathy Springer (signature)
Contractor or Authorized Signatory

Read Terms on Reverse Side

***

Springer, Kathi - C0PRE422

Note to File (March 12, 2004)

This contractor has been retained to provide communications consulting services as directed by the Communications Director assigned to Agriculture, Fisheries and Food/Sustainable Resource Management. The contract was direct awarded in accordance with the exception criteria included in the Core Policy Manual section 6.3.3. The services required are of a confidential and privileged nature; the contractor chosen has the expertise required and is available to perform the Services.

The term of the contract will commence on July 31, 2003 up to and including December 31, 2003. The maximum contract amount is $23,500 (fees: $22,500, expenses: $1,000).

Note to File (October 1, 2003)

Amend the contract to allow for additional services to March 31, 2004. Increase maximum contract amount by $39,000 to $62,500 and transfer $500 from expenses to fees (fees: $62,000; expenses: $500).

Note to File (March 31, 2004)

No additional services required at this time.

Theresa Lumsdon
Manager, Advertising, Marketing and Human Resources

***

Office of the Premier
Public Affairs Bureau
4th Floor, 617 Government St.
PO BOX 9409 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9V1
General Enquiries: 250 387-1337

MEMORANDUM

Date: March 1, 2002
To: All Communications Directors; Senior Communications Counsellors
Cc: Claudia Wilimovsky, Irene Chanin, Andy Orr, Dave Cunningham
From: Moira McDermott

CONFIDENTIAL

Re: Pre-Qualified Suppliers List: Full-Service Communications Agencies

As you know, the Public Affairs Bureau conducted an RFQ for full-service communications agencies. This memo provides a synopsis of what we were seeking in the proposals, the evaluation criteria and methodology, and a reference chart for each successful proponent for your use.

In an effort to cut red tape and save time, these are the agencies that should be considered first for any major communications campaigns. These pre-qualified organizations can be used for contracts under $100,00. As you know, for contracts of more than $25,000 a formal tendering process must be used (three written quotes) and for contracts over $100,000 a formal RFP process must be used.

Please note that this does not mean that other firms cannot be considered. However, one should be prepared to explain why none of the pre-qualified firms were deemed appropriate suppliers.

Basic Requirements

The basic requirements outlined in the RFQ were to:

a) provide all manners of communication and marketing. This would include, but not be limited to:

* public relations
* media relations
* media training
* issues management
* event management
* stakeholder communications
* corporate communications
* community relations
* strategic communications planning

b) have the capacity to plan and implement a communications or a marketing plan in its entirety, including the possibility of managing advertising components

c) provide a single point of contact and a consolidated format and procedures for reporting the status of projects and for billing

d) provide weekly status reports advising the contract manager of progress, obstacles and any foreseen problems in meeting timelines and deliverables.

Evaluation

All responses to the RFQ were first screened by the Purchasing Commission to ensure all mandatories were met e.g. if the proposals were signed, and if they were received on time. The second stage involved evaluation to assess the proposal's strenghts in several categories of communications/marketing services, namely public relations; media relations; media training; issue management; event management; stakeholder communications; corporate communications; community relations; and strategic planning. Senior staff at the Public Affairs Bureau and a representative of the Purchasing Commission did the evaluation.

In considering the expertise of the proponents, the review committee took into account the following: formal training, professional accreditation, the years of substantially full-time experience (200+ hrs/yr.), and the revelance of areas of speciality to the work of the Province.

Proposals needed a combined average score of 70% to proceed to the next stage of evaluation. In stage three, the Purchasing Commission applied a pricing formula to the average hourly rate provided by each proponent who had passed stage two. This screened out any proposals that had marginally passed stage two, and had very high fees. Please note: the lowest average hourly rate provided by the proposals submitted was used as the denominator for this calculation.

Reference Chart

The RFQ provided a common format for submission of qualifications by each individual included in proposals, including communications and industry specialties, and years of experience. A summary of this information is attached. You can use this data to:

a) determine a secific area of communications in which a firm has a strenght, and/or
b) determine a specific area of industry knowledge in which a firm has strength.

A confidential copy of each successful proponent's proposal is on file at the Public Affairs Bureau. If you have any questions about using one of these firms, or if you wish to set up an appointment to read any of the successful proposals, please call either Claudia Wilimovsky at 356-5226 or Moira McDermott at 356-2087.

Thank you.

REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATION SUMMARY

If a pre-qualified bidders list is used:

- The ministry shall invite all contractors on the list to bid for each contract over $100k (GMOP 6.3.3, policy #3)
- Rotational bidders list are not permitted for contracts over $100,000 (GMOP 6.3.3, policy #3)
- Ministries shall advertise annually and nationally for contractors to qualify, however any unregistered supplier meeting the conditions for qualification shall be eligible to rgister at any time (GMOP 6.3.3, policy #5).

Selecting a Short List from a Bidders List

For contracts less than $100k, a ministry may select a short list from a bidders list if:

- The ministry has a properly constituted, up to date and applicable bidders list;
- The cost of preparing a bid or proposal, and administering the competitive process, are significant in relation to the value of the services to be performed: and
- Only a few contractors are likely to be qualified and competitive. (GMOP #6.3.5.1)

The short list shall contain at least three potential proponents/bidders, if available. If a valid bid or proposal is submitted and the potential contractor was not included in the short list, the ministry shall consider the bid or proposal.

Ministries should rotationally solicit bids or proposals from potential contractors on bidders lists to provide all contractors on the list with an opportunity to compete over time.

Provided it is made known to all potential contractors on the bidders list, ministries may take special circumstances or requirements into account when selecting candidates for a short list, for example:

- Special expertise that the firm may have in this type of assignment.
- Highly confidential nature of the assignment.
- Current workload of the firm, especially if the assignment is to address a bona fide emergency.

1 Comment

'yer title's got it right, sean.

the facts are very similar to those in the early 1990s (when Andy Orr served another Premier) - which then Commissioner Ted Hughes took a very dim view of in his investigation (the complainant officially launching the inquiry was a member of the press gallery - "we make the news"!!)

what were once vices are now habits, i suppose ...

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