Transparency and Open Government | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Transparency and Open Government

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Response to "City Must Increase Subcontracting Transparency," Vol. 14, Issue 12, Nov. 24-Dec. 1

Transparency is a priority of this administration. We felt it necessary to respond to the Jackson Free Press editorial to ensure the public was aware of the city's process when it comes to contractual projects.

It is a universal practice for the contractual relationship to be between the owner and the prime contractor or consultant. The prime contractor is ultimately responsible for the completion of a project. From a project delivery standpoint, it would be inefficient to channel efforts into managing multiple contracts and teams for one project instead of focusing on delivering the outcomes of the project. The owner would also have added risk.

As far as the City of Jackson "crafting its contracts" under this administration, the following is our process:

The City negotiates professional services contracts with the prime by identifying scope, schedule and budget. We prepare the budget using man-hour derivation. We review rates, overhead and profit for reasonableness given the work to be performed.

While we don't get involved in negotiating the prime contractor's subcontracts, we do require roles and responsibilities of all subcontractors and a utilization plan so that it is understood how those subcontractors and subconsultants will be used. The utilization plan is tied to the Equal Business Opportunity Plan, if applicable. Additionally, the contractor must submit progress reports, including the percent complete and the EBO status report, to the City with invoices.

If the EBO status report is not in compliance with the original EBO plan submitted, then EBO notifies Public Works and the prime's invoices are at risk of being held until they come into compliance.

We have also established a Project Stat process where we are tracking on the monthly basis the work that primes and subs perform on a contract.

If there are performance issues, we hold the prime responsible, and he or she has to remedy the issue no matter who is assigned to do that particular work, or he or she risks having the invoice withheld.

Lastly, we reference past performance when considering a contractor or consultant. As it relates to the Siemens contract, the following is in place with this administration: On the Siemens contract, we have bi-weekly progress meetings, which all of the subcontractors must attend and provide an update on the work they are performing.

Due to the nature of this contract, monthly scheduled payments with predetermined amounts were specified in the contract over a 30-month period. This administration has kept close watch over the progress on each activity under the contract to make sure that the City is not paying for services that have not been rendered; however, the payments and payment schedule were not contractually tied to progress. It is important to note that a significant portion of the monies paid on this contract covered materials, which included purchase of all meters being installed.

We have a responsibility matrix and detailed project schedules with ownership of tasks and activities by firm, which is part of the documentation we required of Siemens to end the stop-work period.

As an administration, we're taking bold steps when it comes to transparency and open government. We were selected as a partner in Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities open government and data initiative. We're moving forward with the creation of a data portal that will provide our citizens with real-time updates and information about city spending, economic development and programs.

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