Christmas Eve contract award questioned

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...except a government office looking to award a lucrative contract without using a competitive bid process. On December 24, the ministry of attorney general's justice services branch quietly announced it wanted to directly award a three-month contract worth up to $48,000 to a Victoria-based firm with an extensive history of advising the government. That contract will see Queenswood Consulting Group Ltd. develop a business plan for a new provincial service that will deliver legal information and advice to the public online.

Under the government's procurement guidelines, the branch would usually have to solicit bids or obtain three quotes for such work. But that process can be avoided by posting a so-called notice of intent on the government's procurement Website - which is what happened last week.

The notice is supposed to provide an opportunity for competitors to challenge a direct award. In this particular case, though, the deadline for that challenge is January 4, 2011 - three days after most people are waking up with New Year's Eve hangovers.

Asked about the appropriateness of posting a notice of intent the day before Christmas, a ministry spokesperson stated, "it was necessary to keep the project moving."

"Most contractors have access to the Internet 24/7. This gives them seven business days" to challenge the award by writing a "brief letter of objection."

But New Democrat critic Leonard Krog says the handling of this direct award is "tantamount to completely and obviously breaching the policy. No one is going to be paying any attention whatsoever between now and New Year's. That's preposterous!"

"If you're going to slide it under the radar, I can't think of a better day when everyone is looking for Santa's sleigh than transparency in government," he continued. "It would be nice for a change if this government actually tried to comply with the spirit of the rules rather as well as its intent."

The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned notice of intent.

Notice of intent to award a contract to Queenswood Consulting Group Ltd.


Well gov't doesn't stop, let's see what the final product is before we snipe boys n girls.

Is it against policy or is it not? It is and that is all the reason one needs ask questions. Why is it being awarded directly instead? There are far too many apologists for the government who will accept any action without question. It doesn't matter if it is a lie or whether $6 million of taxpayers money is used to pay legal fees (bribe) the principles in the Bazi/Virk case in order to shut down any chance of the light shinning into the sordid affair. You want to cut these guys more slack, do it at your own costs but don't include the rest of us.

To BC Liberals any act by their government is excusable as long as they can continue to position themselves as better than the NDP. Such is the pathetic state of BC politics.

Advocate, you got that right! Especially when their only candidate for leader is Dana Larsen!

Like I said, let's see the final product... let's watch the test flights and see what we got here before we go Lib/Yea or Dip/Nay on this one.

I have to wonder what goes through the head of anyone approving a direct award. Is it a overarching sense of entitlement? Feeling impervious to outside criticism? Knowing they will likely get away with it as anyone who challenges such an award is effectively black balling themselves?

How long after Gordo leaves before the government stops sucking?

2. Timeliness is critical as commitments are sought for resources to implement. What nonsense, this sentence is pure gobbledygoop.

They seem by this and the other 'justifications' to be using a sense of urgency to warrant the direct award. This prompts the question - is the urgency real or manufactured to use as an excuse? If it is real, how real is it, and is the urgency due to poor planning? What is the follow-up being done on this award - if Attorney General discovers afterwards that there was no real urgency, and/or the work wasn't completed or completed in the original time-frame what are the penalties to the people who signed off on this? How will it be prevented in the future.

The BC Government needs to treat public money with greater respect and diligence.

No surprises here. This is just another example of blatant Liberal corruption.

I have a question and a comment:

Question: Expanding "virtual" justice access as opposed to what? Is this another cost-cutting measure that's supposed to replace cuts to Legal Aid and if so, what happens to those who aren't computer savvy - i.e. the types of folks most likely to need access to justice info?

Comment: Queenswood was hired to review Community Living BC's "innovative" new service delivery model back in 2008. Coleman originally declined to release their report and then released it very quietly a year later. It included some useful insights, repeated much of what everyone already knew and included some large gaps - though we'll never know if those were thanks to government-sponsored re-writes of the original draft. Two years on, it also looks like the Province ignored their key recommendations, so you have to wonder if it was money well spent.

Two points stood out in Queenswood's advice on resolving CLBC's challenges, given recent developments in community living:

1) The report's emphasized a major shift to Individualized Funding (social service equivalent of school vouchers) to resolve budget & sustainability challenges. Interestingly, CLBC has since abandonned the IF program - not sure if that's because they finally figured out that the fortunate few who accessed the initial IF pilot were costing far more to serve than traditional clients or if they've found easier ways to cut costs, as in #2 below.

2) Queenswood endorsed CLBC's efforts to shift from group homes to cheaper informal models to costs (ignoring the human risks and studies showing it wasn't the model but the level of care required/delivered that affected costs). This was also a significant statement because CLBC and successive ministers have consistently insisted in public that the shift is not about cutting costs. The real kicker in Queenswood's report was the acknowledgement that a costly review had found overwhelming opposition to these cheaper residential options, so CLBC would have to wait for existing group home residents to die off while directing new clients to these alternatives and thus accomplish the shift very gradually over time.

CLBC has apparently not taken this advice either - instead launching another "service redesign" program that forces residents out of their homes by re-assessing them with a new tool that disqualifies everyone from group homes as the default outcome.

For anyone interested in community living, the report is a worthwhile read: you can find it linked from here, along with some comments I put together after my initial read:

Since Dana Larsen isn't even a member of the the party he wants to lead, how is that relevant to a contract awarded directly?

Hal, it's just my way of sniping at the BCNDP posters here... see what Advocate said earlier.

BTW, Dana Larsen IS a member of the BCNDP. Just a paperwork snafu...

The BC so called Liberals are following the federal way of doing things and getting away with it. It's called knowing who your friends are.

Some pot-head must sign up enough like minded pot-heads in each constituency in order to even have a respectable showing in the race for leader. That's why he gave a press release when he did. The joke is on any of the liberal posters like you who take comfort in his shenanigans.

Hal, I'm wondering if you think that by your calling someone a "pot head" disqualifies them or their ideas from the consideration of fair-minded people. I mean just because you have an attitude about pot that might not be shared ny Dana Larsen do you feel qualified to judge him? Do you disparage people that drink alcohol as "booze hounds" etc., or do you even think your opinion about the use of pot by others is worthy of being broadcast on such blog sights as this one? The last three US presidents fit into the definition of your ad homenem. You know what would be funny? It would be you trying to debate Dana Larsen, on just about any subject you'd care to choose, and I'd take bets on Dana, hands down, whether he was stoned or straight at the time. I don't smoke pot (any more) but I'd vote for Dana Larsen, and I wish him all the best - a rare and honest man who isn't a fraid to speak his mind. For example I could name you cops, lawyers, even judges in BC who've smoked or still smoke pot...but you know what? They're just not honest enough to admit it.

rhwg, you are missing the point. This was about a poster trying to score points against the NDP by the mentioning of Dana Larsen. I never said anyone opinion was not valid. I really doubt that BC is ready to fight an important election with legalization of pot as a the major issue something that will turn off a lot of serious voters. That is exactly what would happen if by some miracle Larsen was to survive that long in a political race. Which makes me wonder what Larsen's purpose really is in all this because there is a Marijuana Party. As you have already noticed his presence is an excuse for some to denigrate an entire party. To the best of my knowledge and I have been away from the activity for a time, very few of the party would appreciate the focus on pot. I seem to recall an NDP MP made announcements to that effect many years ago just as he was retiring from politics. If he had not done so willingly he would have lost his seat. So I take a very dim view of anyone who uses the NDP for such a purpose. You may vote for Larsen and I'll concede that under any condition he would be better than any choice offered by the BC Liberals but I'll vote for a serious more committed candidate. I'm sure there will be a few by the time the date expires.

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