Bidding Fails To Produce Adviser For Transit Panel
By Shannon Pettypiece
Miami-Dade County’s transportation watchdog that oversees more than $150 million a year in sales-tax revenue still lacks a financial adviser because it can only hire a woman-owned firm that holds no county contracts.
The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust had expected to have an adviser by today (4/1) but may have to wait until June after an unsuccessful bidding process, said Chairman John Cosgrove.
A contract for up to $500,000 was advertised in January and the trust’s selection committee began interviewing candidates in February.
While the scope of services sought was broad, the range of eligible businesses was narrow. The county’s Department of Business Development found that women-owned businesses were underrepresented in the county’s procurement of financial services so only women-owned firms were allowed to bid. Under the county’s disadvantaged business guidelines, minority or women-owned businesses receive a certain percentage of county contracts.
Also, the trust wanted its adviser to not have any other county contracts in an effort to maintain its independence.
The trust received only two bids, Mr. Cosgrove said, and rejected both as being unable to provide an adequate level of services.
"Both firms, while I’m sure they are more than competent, were ill-suited to provide the needs we were looking for," trust member John Abrams said last month. "Neither exceeded 50 on a 100 scale."
The trust now wants to open the bidding to all businesses. But county Commissioner Dennis Moss, whose transportation committee must approve the action, said the trust needs to change its requirements and not the county’s disadvantaged-business guidelines.
"I refuse to believe there is not a qualified woman-owned business in Miami-Dade County that can provide the service the CITT asked for," Mr. Moss said. "They need to go back and look at the requirements and be more specific about the scope and reissue the request as a women’s business enterprise to see if additional responses come in."
The issue was to go before the transportation committee this month but has been removed from its agenda.
Mr. Cosgrove said the trust should not have to repeat the process under the disadvantaged-business guidelines after it was unsuccessful finding an adviser. He said the trust, which began meeting in May 2003, has waited too long to get the help it needs.
"It is ironic that some have unfairly criticized the CITT for causing delays, and yet this action frustrates the whole process," Mr. Cosgrove wrote in a letter to Mr. Moss in March. "The CITT has worked with the Department of Procurement Management and the Department of Business Development to ensure that all county processes were followed and that requirements were included in this competitive process."