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2004 Media Releases

November 15, 2004

Statement of Mayor Coleen J. Seng
Decision on the November 4, 2004 Recommendation
of the Procurement Appeals Board on the Pumper Fire Truck Bid
November 15, 2004

Today, I have directed the Finance Department to begin a new bidding process for purchasing replacement pumper fire trucks.

The pumper fire truck bid specifications are to be reviewed to eliminate multiple city contacts which caused the confusion and facilitated the lack of communication. Also, the specs should be further reviewed to make them as generic as possible by eliminating references to brands and other descriptions which may appear to be proprietary or restrictive. Since the basic specifications will remain the same, the bid period should be shorter. This also will prevent the City from further delay in the critical need to replace the aging fire trucks.

The pumper fire trucks have been needed for more than a year. The six or seven pumper fire trucks being replaced are 10 to 20 years old and are living on borrowed time. There is a risk if a pumper fire truck has a catastrophic breakdown happen during an emergency.

A different purchasing agent will be assigned to conduct the rebid. This will allow for a fresh perspective on the rebid. There is to be no contact between the future bidders or their attorneys and/or representatives with any one except the Finance Director and/or the purchasing agent to be assigned to conduct the rebid.

At the same time, I have directed the Law Department and Finance Department to design a new and better appeal process. The current appeal process was created in 1993. The City Law Department has identified a number of deficiencies in the current appeal process that need to be clarified and improved. These improvements to the appeals process include clarifying when an appeal can be filed, how many appeals a vendor can submit, whether an appeal decision can be appealed and when the appeal period ends.

The improvements to the procurement process appeals need to be to me by December 31, 2004 and ready for introduction to City Council in January 2005.

I am particularly troubled by how some have tried to change the pumper fire truck appeal process from a purchasing decision to a referendum on efficiency of the Fire Department. This is about a purchasing decision. All those involved acted within their appropriate authorities. But it is apparent that the bid process and the specifications created ambiguity in this case. Purchasing specifications and the appeals procurement process need to be clear.

My other observation is that while I am constantly barraged about how everyone should "buy" Lincoln, in this case, a hometown business has had no support from the local business community. I hear weekly about the importance of using local business to acquire services and products ranging from printing to concrete, but in this case no one has mentioned the importance of buying locally. Instead, some have attempted to use this fire truck appeal to cast doubt on the efficiency of the firefighters and Department as though the city was once again determining emergency ambulance service. The emergency ambulance selection is over, was over and life needs to move on. While the City will follow the City Charter requirements, I will always believe that local business needs our support.

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