Purchasing agent: DPW’s no-bid deals are in line with Norwalk guidelines

NORWALK, Conn. – Questions surrounding no-bid purchases of goods and services by the Norwalk Department of Public Works from City Carting were answered Monday by Norwalk purchasing agent Gerald J. Foley.

NancyOnNorwalk asked Foley to clarify the city’s policy concerning the spending of $273,000 to purchase three trash compacters from Norwalk’ trash and recycling vendor, and another nearly $50,000 expense – put on hold by the Common Council Public Works Committee – for bulky waste pickup.

Foley explained the process in an email.

“Amendments to existing agreements require the review and approval of the Common Council,” he wrote. “Concerning the request to add an amendment to an existing agreement [bulky waste pickup], the amendment is first reviewed at the departmental level; then at the Common Council Committee and finally at the full Common Council.”

It is not uncommon to add an amendment to an existing agreement without soliciting other bids, Foley wrote.

“The rationale is typically that it is in the city’s best interest to maintain all of the like services (in this case, garbage collection) with the same company. Thus, with such approach, the city is afforded more control of the services and more control (and more leverage) over the company. And in the end, when the services are re-bid, all of the existing services — plus all of the amendments (and or added services) — are put out as a single bid in lieu of multiple bids.”

According to the city’s Procurement Guidelines adopted in 2005 and available on the city website:

§3-206 Single Source Procurement

A contract may be awarded for a lease, rental, supply, service, or construction item without competition when, the Purchasing Agent, designee and Department Head determines that, in the best interests of the City, the City should procure the required supply, service, or construction item from a specific source. When such determination is made by a Department Head that there is only one source, the written justification for such determination must be submitted to the Purchasing Agent for approval. However every such single source purchase in excess of $10,000.00 shall be subject to the approval of the Common Council.

Part E – Types of Contracts

§3-501 Types of Contracts.

Subject to the limitations of this Section, any type of contract which will promote the best interests of the City may be used.

Pursuant to Charter Section §1-226, it is the Mayor alone who shall, on behalf of the City, execute all contracts and other papers necessary. Pursuant to the Norwalk Code Section §1-241, the Purchasing Agent is to procure competitive bids to insure the procurement of quality supplies, services and construction on a timely basis for the City. Pursuant to Code Section §63-2, the Law Department is to supervise the preparation of all contracts and

any other legal papers of whatever nature.

Pursuant to Charter Section §1-189, the powers of the Common Council include the power to provide for the due execution of contracts and of indebtedness issued by said City. Under Code Section §95-2 it is the duty of the Director of Public Works to execute, cause to be executed, and supervise the execution of all orders of the Common Council for the construction, maintenance and repair of all public works not ordered to be supervised by

other officers or persons.

A. Purchase Orders

(1) Determination of use. A Purchase Orders’ use is limited to ordinary routine procurements of supplies, services or construction. A Purchase Order may be executed by the Purchasing Agent utilizing the following guidelines:

(a) Expenditures Up to $25,000.00: The Purchasing Agent shall be authorized to execute a Purchase Order to acquire supplies, services or construction, including equipment up to $25,000.00. Except for in the acquisition of (a) Fire Apparatus; (b) Police or other vehicles or vessels, or (c) additions and replacements of existing equipment , which The Purchasing Agent shall be authorized to execute a Purchase Order up to $100,000.00.

(b) Expenditures Over $25,000.00: All other purchases of supplies, services or construction, except as noted above, in excess of $25,000.00 must be authorized by the Common Council. The acquisition and retention of trade services, professional services and construction work in excess of $25,000.00 must be authorized by the Common Council and shall require the execution of a formal contract signed by the Mayor.


11 responses to “Purchasing agent: DPW’s no-bid deals are in line with Norwalk guidelines”

  1. Ducks not lined up

    “When such determination is made by a Department Head that there is only one source, the written justification for such determination must be submitted to the Purchasing Agent for approval.” So, did Mr Foley receive the required written justification document from Mr. Alvord for the trash compactors?
    If so can we publish it?
    “However every such single source purchase in excess of $10,000.00 shall be subject to the approval of the Common Council.” So if Mr Alvord was astute and sought to exercize his authority, legally, he could have broken down the bulk pick up dates to say 6-7, thus keeping billable transactions for each bulk p/u day under cap and would be in compliance. But he didn’t do that, that would not pass the smell test, even though its legit and cost effective. Mr A. may not be the best mgr ever but he certainly isn’t the worst either. He gets attacked often and doesn’t get the staff or equipment he needs, yet he soldiers on.

    He really has no computer software to efficiently run his department? So how is he supposed to keep track of the fuel usage, especially from vendors pocketing significant dollars at the city pump, avoiding all taxes on every gallon of diesel. That, our dearest Mr A., is a serious no no and can leave yourself open to further attacks and jeopardize continued employment. Mr A. is a good guy and try’s to ignore the noise and focus on tasks at hand. That may be a professional demeanor in private sector but this is a public sector job and interaction with citizens is part of the job description. Perhaps Mr Alvord can leave the boss man hat at the office and try and just be his genuine self when at these meetings and don’t be so terrified if mistakes are made. We all make em. Just be straight up to folks and be respectful, even if its not returned properly. You screwed up on the compactors, we all knew they were in disrepair for years with what 2-3 fires damaging some of that equipment in the last decade but why was the compactors not included in the original contract with CC? Why all these addendums and additional funds?

    To top it off, why would a contract be given to a known underworld operator? Other decent local guys around with a little help would give the town a cleaner image. It’s not like no one knows that all of meadow street is controlled by syndicates and is a hazardous toxic waste site, just tens of feet from public housing and children’s playgrounds. And in the public playgrounds and housing, street gangs control the drugs, guns and some street level prostitution.

    Sorry got of the track of the thread, just so much to do in our great little town, so many things that can be done at minimal costs that collectively can have real impacts and raise the the standard of living for all Norwalker’s.

    And a shout out to you David, if your gonna grandstand my friend, do it on issues of true substance, affordable decent housing, early child development,addressing the total lack of services for those returning to society from institutions and the military and stand up and shout with your bull horn about the complete mental health service void. Norwalk Hospital has the resources to expand mental health services, its time politicians pushed them to greatly expand mental health services for the communities they serve or take away the tax exemptions that NH so graciously accepts. Sidewalks? Lets get our priorities in a row here.

  2. Norewalk Lifer

    Amendments? I would argue that the definition of the word was stretched in my view.

    Clearly, some of this work should have been bid out; that maintains a healthy competitive atmosphere, to say that if there is a contract in place, an amendment can be written and approved by common council without any review nor bidding by other companies who have similar services or goods.

    Sure, all of us, routinely, bid out construction work on our homes, and during the course of the work, find out we need a new roof and just give the work to the existing contractor on site.

    We all do that, right?

    Norwalk Lifer

  3. Don’t Panic

    I am starting to see how DPW has gotten into such dire budgetary straits to begin with. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

  4. Suzanne

    Norwalk Lifer, Nope, I don’t. If a given contractor’s expertise is construction that does not necessarily make him/her a good roofer. That piece of the work would be put out for at least three bids as all good homeowner advisers would allow.
    It is a metaphor for the gobblety gook above: always get the best price and best service and find out what that is making sure the vendor is fully insured and licensed. Easy, peesy and a basic Mr. Alvord doesn’t seem to “get.”
    I agree with “Ducks” above: did Mr. Foley receive the written justification from Mr. Alvord prior to Council approval and Mayoral action? (And, I don’t mean the day before but in due time to be considered seriously.)
    Also, as to no software at all, I doubt it. (I have actually had an excellent experience with a young man in Public Works who provided some pretty complicated City data for me using GPS software.) If DPW has computers, they have a Windows suite at the very least or some kind of spread sheet software that could track diesel. It’s called a clipboard, pad, pen and paper, filled out at the tanks then evaluated on a computer.
    Mr. Alvord has been using this as an excuse for mismanagement for far too long.

  5. Oldtimer

    No software to keep track of street openings, dangerous sidewalks, and details such as where qualified people can be found to fix trash compactors ?
    That sounds a bit like “the dog ate my homework” level of excuses. No doubt new and better software would promote more efficient management, but failure to make the most of the old software is poor management. At Alvord’s age, another retirement to go with his colonel retirement from the Army is probably a good idea.

  6. peter parker

    Alvord is a master of smoke and screens. When it suites his purpose he and his friends can locate documents that date back to the days of the ancient scrolls. Ask him for something that doesn’t fit his agenda and he’ll try to baffle you with “I have no idea (why). That’s what I’m telling you: Over some period of time, God only knows what, various things were done. I can’t explain them. Anything that was done before Dec. 10th of 2003 I can’t explain. I have no idea. I can’t even vouch for the record keeping that was done in those periods of time”. Sooner or late it’s all going to catch up to your Mr. Alvord. For the good of the City, the preference is sooner.

  7. LWitherspoon

    Lots of noise but nobody has come up with a less expensive option than what was proposed. Makes you wonder.

  8. peter parker

    There isn’t a better suggestion or less expensive option, because there hasn’t been any bid process yet. Makes you wonder why the bid process wasn’t used right from the start, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we?

  9. Oldtimer

    Should have gotten somebody to look a the existing compactors, find out what was wrong, and then based on repair estimates, decide what to do next. The manufacturers have parts/service departments.

  10. Oldtimer

    Alvord is too close to City Carting, and NY state has good reason to keep Fiorillo out of the trash business.


  11. Dennis DiManis

    Scam! At our expense, these guys are laughing at us!

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