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U-46 questioned about bid process by vendor

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be voting on a $1.5 million proposal at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Feb. 26, but questions were raised by one of the bidders on the district’s selection process. The proposal was presented on Monday, Feb. 5.
  The proposal, a three-year contract, is for providing the district both internet and wide area network (WAN) services and Comcast was the winning bidder.
  However, a representative from WOW Business addressed the board questioning why it wasn’t awarded the contract for internet services. WOW, which only bid on the internet portion of the Request for Proposal (RFP), came in with the lowest bid of $133,020 compared to $151,200 from Comcast.
  The WOW representative, asked for “clarification, if possible, on evaluation criteria” and “what we’re asking is if no action can be taken… for the internet until there’s clarification.”
  Comcast ultimately won the bid with 83.7 points awarded among all categories compared to 82.7 for WOW. Under the price category, a maximum of 30 points could be given to a bidder and WOW received 26.7 points in that category (Comcast received 24.3), and WOW questioned why it wouldn’t have received the maximum 30 points, which would have given them the winning bid, since it came in with the lowest price.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked for the district’s rationale on how it scored the bidders and Laura Macias, information services director, said “we looked at it holistically” with six categories with weighted scoring. The six categories include price, technical functionality, completeness and accuracy of proposal, references and experience, service and support and price of ineligible goods and services.
  “When we took a look at it in terms of the whole service and experience, that’s where Comcast came on top of it,” Macias said.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked about the two scoring sheets which Bruce Phelps, senior business official, said “there are two different services,” internet and WAN, but he did not say there was a need for both services to be provided by the same provider.
  Ward asked if the proposal document was publicly available for WOW to review which Phelps said it was and “also during bid openings, we also tell the vendors at the meeting when we open that they can request Freedom of Information Act for any documents.”
  The rationale for the need for the WAN service from the proposal states: “WAN allows our schools to connect to our main data center… and to the internet. Without these connections schools are not able to connect to our internal servers, the internet or the phone system.”
  The proposal stated that “increased student usage and online testing” creates a greater need for internet service capacity. It also states this contract will provide $12,350 in saving per month compared to district’s current contract for $444,602 in savings over three years.
  If approved, the expense will come from the education fund but the district will seek e-rate funding where the federal government will reimburse 80 percent of the expense. That would mean U-46 would pay $306,864 while the nation’s taxpayers would pick up $1.2 million of the bill.




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