Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oswego County clerk contract award: Was the process tainted?

Some Oswego County legislators on both sides of the aisle are alleging the process used to award a contract for data imaging services for the office of the County Clerk was tainted and the argument did not end with Thursday’s meeting of the legislature.

As legislators debated the issue of whether to award the contract to Info Quick Solutions, Inc. of Liverpool, Majority Leader Jack Proud noted that the company had the best references from those who use their data imaging system.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler, however, said that when he made a request to County Administrator Phil Church to see the references, he was denied. The county provided comments from the users of each vendor, however, there is no indication who provided the comments to determine the authenticity.

IQS was the most costly vendor and had the lowest rating from a panel appointed to review the five request for proposals received by the county.

Despite the cost and panel review, the legislator approved awarding the contract to IQS by a 15-8 vote with two legislators absent.

During the debate, the question of whether the process was tainted was addressed by Kunzwiler and legislators Amy Tresidder and Jake Mulcahey, all Democrats, and Legislator Shawn Doyle, a Republican.

The blind review panel was appointed by Church, who autonomously handled the entire proposal process. Among the members were Kathryn Wolfe, who is the law clerk for Supreme Court Judge Norman Seiter, one of two judges Williams said is receiving the service for free. Wolfe’s husband, Andrew Wolfe, is the law clerk for Judge James McCarthy, the second judge Williams cited as receiving the service at no cost. 

The panel was comprised of one legislator from each caucus. Legislator Dan Farfaglia, the Democrat representative, was removed from the panel last month.

Doyle said he believes the process was tainted from the beginning.

“It troubles me that they didn’t release the references,” he said. “I’d like to see who gave these references. We only had the word of the administrator and he has misled us on multiple occasions in regard to this contract.”

Kunzwiler said the lack of releasing the names of those contacted to give references, lends to suspicion of the legitimacy of the comments.

It wasn’t only the lack of information in regard to the references that led to the controversy, the question of how County Clerk George Williams was able to recommend Info Quick Solutions, Inc. of Liverpool prior to the names of the bidders being revealed during a recent meeting of the legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee was raised by Mulcahey.          POST

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