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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Your tax dollars at work

We blogged recently about the City of Portland's call for bids to sell the city a variety of promotional items -- all manner of swag, from t-shirts to coffee mugs to umbrellas to bookmarks that turn into plant starts to esoteric mountain climbing gear. Why fix the streets when you can give away cool city stuff?

As it turns out, the bid process by which a vendor of such junk will be selected is showing signs of being as crazy as the giveaways themselves. Already the city has amended the original bid solicitation twice. Yesterday the second addendum went up on the web, and it is strong evidence that some folks at City Hall have entirely too much time on their hands.

Here is the second addendum, in all its glory. Check it out, and compare it to the first addendum, which was released last Tuesday. You will see that all they changed yesterday was a single dollar amount in the sample pricing form that they want bidders to submit. Instead of "B. Reusable Coffee Mug, ceramic, approx. $8 charge after min. qty level discount," the sample form now reads "B. Reusable Coffee Mug, ceramic, approx. $3 charge after min. qty level discount."

But hey, wait a minute! The document that they went out of their way to amend yesterday is just an example of the form that the prospective vendors are supposed to use. When they submit their forms, they'll use their own prices, whatever they may be. The mugs might be priced at $3, or $8, or any other amount -- it's up to the vendor. The documents are very specific: "Use your own quantity levels and pricing as well as discounts off of list price, this is only an example."

So let me get this straight: We drafted an addendum, with an accompanying memo, and posted it to the web yesterday, just to change the dollar amount in an example on a sample form -- and the vendors are all going to change the dollar amount as a matter of course? That, ladies and gentlemen, would be bureaucracy at its finest. Let's hope I'm missing something.

Comments (2)

Mugs shall display the face of Sam, exclusively. (No!, the face of Tom.) (No! . . . )

If they expect them to adjust their price to the example, why would they have put something like $0.03?

That seems to me to be a clue as to what price will be acceptable to the city.

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