Franklin County to revise purchasing policy after audit

The state comptroller’s office has cited Franklin County for not following its own purchasing policy.

In a report released Tuesday, state auditors said the county did not issue requests for proposals to procure services from 11 service providers who were paid a total of $1,551,961.

“As a result, the county may have paid more than necessary when obtaining these services,” the report reads.

The audit covered a year-and-a-half-long period, from Jan. 1, 2015 to July 31, 2016. It focused on whether the county’s procurement practices followed state standards and county policy.

Auditors reviewed 25 purchase and public works contracts totaling $3.5 million and found they were all procured according to General Municipal Law, which requires competitive bidding for contracts that exceed certain dollar amounts.

When it came to professional service providers, however, auditors found the county didn’t always follow its policy, which requires the use of requests for proposals for contracts of $10,000 or more. Of the 15 professional service contracts in excess of $10,000 that auditors reviewed, requests for proposals were not used for 10 providers who were paid a total of $1.4 million.

The list includes contracts with multiple physical therapy and speech therapy providers, as well as single contracts with case management, in-home care, domestic violence and labor relations providers.

In addition, the county used a request for proposals to procure only $12,000 of the $123,200 it paid for accounting services during the audit period.

“This resulted because the Legislature and the county manager did not ensure that professional services were procured in accordance with the county’s purchasing policy prior to entering into contracts with these service providers,” the report reads.

Auditors also cited the county for not properly evaluating three proposals it received for tourism marketing services, although the county used a request for proposals before awarding the $278,816 contract. The report doesn’t name which provider received the contract.

“The three proposals were not evaluated based on the evaluation criteria contained within the RFP and there was no documentation maintained to support the reasoning for the Legislature’s selection of the service provider,” the report reads. “However, there was no indication that this contract was awarded to this service provider because of favoritism.”

County Manager Donna Kissane, in a Dec. 21 written response to the audit, said the county agrees with the findings and believes increasing how often it requires requests for proposals “would be beneficial to county operations.” She said the county will implement the necessary changes by March 1 to update the purchasing policy according to the recommendations in the audit.

Kissane also said the county will ensure the evaluation and rationale for the selection of a service provider is documented in the future.