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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 13, 2011 11:44 AM. The previous post in this blog was Tri-Met makes major discovery. The next post in this blog is He's not kidding. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Teaching kids how to swim?

If you're the City of Portland, the one key ingredient in a swim program is having a graphic designer on call under a $75,000 contract.

Does that deal scream "no need to bid, the fix is already in" -- or what?

Comments (25)

I would guess many small businesses (those with budgets, staff and customers comparable to Portland Parks/Aquatics) would be ecstatic to have on-demand graphic design for less than $25,000 per year.

Small businesses and nonprofits I've worked have spent far more than that, especially when you include employee benefits.

How is it "no bid" when there is an RFP right in front of you?

Do some research Richard.

Richard, the RFP is just a formality.

You might ask Amalia Alarcon de Morris if such a formality is all that is required before awarding one's own company a public contract. It was not enough to expel her from her position, nor deny her the right to hold any office of public trust in the future.

BTW, how does a company attain an immutable characteristic such as race or gender? Is it by overt, and prohibited, discrimination as an official company policy?

The 75 grand number is precisely the same as that approved by Amalia Alarcon de Morris, with the bulk of it going to pay untaxed (by the city) wages to Maria Lisa Johnson.

Chances are that there is one and only one already identified designer that has been selected. Look for some recently incorporated entity to get the bid, with a date of incorporation that is close to the date when the plan was actually hatched.

Well, I looked at the RFP, looked at the criteria, this is a standard RFP for on-call consulting. There are 6 criteria, cost is one of them, but they mostly look for ability. What am I missing?


I don't know anything about the (likely confidential) personnel matter, I just have seen a lot of these contracts in other bureaus. They are not all a nefarious plot. Besides, I thought the anti-government types like contracting with the private sector.

$25,000/yr for on call, 24/7 graphic design? (Well, maybe 18/7. Gotta sleep!)Drop everything else?

Wow! I'm rich!

Ooops! look at the requirements, like insurance.

Hmmm, 11x17 print output required. That means at least an Epson 3880@over $1300

There goes my new Lexus!

Eichard -- "They are not all a nefarious plot."

The city has not addressed (remedied) this one nefarious plot, thus setting an official policy standard that allows for nefarious plots.

Isn't she the head of ONI? Was she expelled from this position?

Starbuck: "Isn't she the head of ONI? Was she expelled from this position?"

Yes; and No, she is the poster child of exemplary behavior. Her RFP was, after all, about leadership training.

$10/hr at 2080 hr/yr is $20,800. Huh? Oh yes, available 18/7 minimum.....

This just doesn't pencil out. A minimum markup for overhead and taxes is 1.8, more like 2.2. So $25,000/20 is 1250 hrs/yr. Doesn't look like any kind of deal to me.

If I were to enter a contract like that, there would be a basic retainer, based on expected hours, billed at the going rate. If the hours climbs, the price climbs.

Further, some sort of sign-off on a daily basis would have to be in place, that is a call that says we don't need you on standby today.

Talk about indentured!

I suppose they could do what the Fire Dept. does, 24 on. 48 off with three people sharing the load.

My view is that the 24/7 is a bit much.

If an emergency on an evening or weekend needed to be addressed, wouldn't a simple memo suffice? Why would that kind of information have to handled by a graphic designer? Could that not be done by paid staff?

Remember this is a swim program.
What are the hours of aquatic centers?
The only reason I could see an emergency would be if they needed to be shut down for a cryptosporidium problem. That is where cryptosporidium can occur.
But again, a simple memo or press release from staff could work.
Why this need for 24/7?
Am I missing something?

This is silly. Professional contractors presumably do better work, they also often bill out at $75+ an hour. they work on an as needed, per project basis, they don't work 24/7. They pay their own overhead and taxes.

It's for the kids!

How is it "no bid"

No one said it was. I suggested that it was a rigged process, and that the winning "bidder" is already identified and ready to go.

I've been taking my kids there for lessons for the past 12 years or so, and they're still using the same certificate at the end of the session to show if the child passed or needs to repeat the class. Maybe with a graphic designer, now they can create a new, flashier certificate!


When you said "no need to bid", I interpreted it as meaning "no bid".

If you have evidence that competing proposals will be ignored you should offer that.

...What am I missing?

Posted by Eichard | January 13, 2011 1:42 PM

Among other things, the "R' key.

You are close: fat fingers are the culprit

"Richard," who is a City of Portland employee posting from a city computer, has left the building.

Simple math for the RFQ: $75,000 for a three-year contract: Assume $75.00 per hour and 334 (rounded) hours each of those three years. That's cheap when you consider that the service provider has to cover overhead, FICA, scary health insurance costs, etc. If the contractor asks for an assignment with a pile of changes it can turn an 80-hour assignment into a 200-hour assignment– costs can go to the moon! Contracts end when dollar amounts are exceeded – time or money whichever comes first!
Can't value the work at $10 per hr.

There is no 24/7 for three years. There is only 24/7 until the city burns through the contract money.

This seems perfectly reasonable to me. It's going to save taxpayer dollars to have one person booked for all forthcoming projects - rather than bidding out, and writing contracts for, every single little graphic design job from $150 to $5000.

As others have noted, this is $75k over three years. Furthermore, there's no guarantee they'll use up the entire pot of money. They're just putting a cap on it -- which is a good thing, right, Jack?

The total not-to-exceed amount of the contract shall be $75,000.00 for the three (3) year term. Services are requested as the need arises, therefore there is no guarantee of work to be assigned under the resulting contract, or that the total dollar limit of the contract will be reached.

No, one of the many in-house people sitting around drinking coffee and surfing the internet ought to do this as part of their regular job.

MS Word has some really nice fonts and clip art. That ought to be good enough.


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