Recently, Rock the Capital delved deeper into the policies of the PA Turnpike Commission (PTC). We analyzed procurement procedures and what goes into an RFP (Request For Proposal). More specifically, we looked intently at procurement procedures for PTC IT (Information Technology) expenditures.
The complete analysis of such procurement procedures follows.
PTC IT Procurement Options
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is subject to the Pennsylvania Procurement Code, which is the law governing public sector procurements. It [Procurement Code] helps ensure fair and ethical procurement practices for Commonwealth agencies. It requires competitive procurements to help ensure ethical practices and best value. It allows sole source contracting under certain criteria, which must be documented, justified and approved at various levels of review.
Request for Proposal (RFP) is a common way to ensure a competitive procurement and negotiate a contract for professional services, commodities and equipment. This type of procurement requires a lot of time for the government agency to write the procurement document, conduct the proposal reviews and negotiate the contract terms and conditions with the winning vendor. The typical time for an IT RFP process is 6-10 months. It is also very expensive for vendors to respond to these procurement requests.
Government agencies are authorized to use other properly competitively bid contracts when the contract scope expressly includes provisions for piggybacking by other agencies. These types of procurement provisions are called co-operative purchasing agreements. For the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Commissioners must authorize the use of each co-operative purchasing mechanism. Using these contracts satisfy the Procurement Code competition requirements and saves the PTC time and money and enables us to more quickly meet our purchasing needs.
The following are examples of co-operative purchasing contracts used by the PTC IT Department:
1. Commonwealth contracts: PTC is authorized to use statewide contracts managed by the PA Department of General Services (DGS) or the PA Office of Administration (OA). Example contracts include the state software contract and the Invitation to Qualify (ITQ) contracts administered by DGS and two contracts with Microsoft for professional services managed by the Office of Administration. Individual procurements must still meet PTC-specific procurement and approval processes.
2. COSTARS: This is the Commonwealth’s co-operative purchasing program that are available for use by local governments. They include most statewide contracts. Commonwealth executive and independent agencies may not make purchases from the COSTARS-exclusive contracts. (https://www.costars.state.pa.us/HomeMem.aspx)
For the COSTARS contracts, the PA Turnpike Commission is defined as a “state-affiliated entity” rather than an executive or independent agency, and therefore eligible to use COSTARS contracts. (https://www.dgs.pa.gov/COSTARS/Member-Information/Pages/default.aspx)
Individual procurements must still meet PTC-specific procurement and approval processes.
3. Texas Department of Information Resources (Texas DIR): The state of Texas manages co-operative purchasing agreements for Texas state agencies, as well as other qualified and registered government agencies. The terms and conditions are pre-set, they have been competitively bid and the PTC Commissioners have authorized their use by PTC Departments. Individual procurements must still meet PTC-specific procurement and approval processes.
4. Federal General Services Administration Co-operative Contracts (Schedules 70 and 84): These specific series of federal contracts are extended for use by state and local government entities. Most federal contracts are reserved exclusively for federal agencies. Individual procurements must still meet PTC-specific procurement and approval processes.
• 2/4/20 F-5a ¬– $90K State Co-stars contract 034-2: This was for upgrades to 4 conference rooms to include new control panels, new displays and availability panels; it also included provisions to purchase the Fusion AV system that will allow us to remotely support all rooms, as well as power room systems on/off.
The PTC Commissioners had previously authorized a purchase order with Visual Sound for similar equipment for other PTC conference rooms. This change order covers additional rooms. Because Visual Sound is a pre-qualified supplier under the COSTARS co-operative purchasing program, PTC can order equipment and installation services directly through the contract without needing to go through a separate RFP process. However, the total purchase order value requires approval and authorization by the PTC Commissioners.
• 2/4/20 Item F5f — Microsoft Premier support services, including Contact Center Services (March 29, 2020 – March 28, 2021), utilizing the Commonwealth’s contract with Microsoft Corp.; at a total award of $191,389.64. State contract #4400000452 – PO 4400008895.
2/4/20 – Item F5d Microsoft Dynamics development and implementation services (February 2020 – January 2021) for the Contact Center modernization, utilizing the Commonwealth’s [OA] contract with Microsoft Corp.; at a total award of $4,807,583.79. Master Services Agreement #U7326146 – PO 4400008891.
Microsoft Dynamics is being used as the core of a customer service/call center solution. The PTC used two different statewide contracts with Microsoft Corp. to procure professional services to implement the solution.
• 2/4/20 F-5b $135K State Commonwealth contract 4400018036: Installation and support for mobile cameras for safety advisor vehicles and an additional vehicle at Burnt Cabins (as part of Tuscarora Tunnel project. We started adding these cameras during the Papal visit and have now expanded to all MUWs. These cameras have been very helpful in traffic incident management.
Even though we purchased similar equipment in the past using the same contract mechanism, the value of this new purchase required Commissioner approval and authorization.
• 2/18/20 Mitratec/LawTrac (supplement): $67,560
The current contract with Mitratec for the LawTrac Legal Matter Management system was the result of a sole source contract. The PTC had previously established a competitively-bid contract with Mitratec to implement LawTrac to track all PTC legal cases and associated invoices. PTC desired to continue to use LawTrac to maximize its investment (new implementations are expensive) – the system meets PTC needs and users are well-accustomed to using it. The LawTrac product was not listed on any existing co-operative purchasing agreements available to PTC. A sole source procurement was requested, justified and approved by PTC Commissioners and the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Office.
The resulting sole source agreement included provisions for licensing an eBilling module and associated implementation and configuration services. However, after the contract was executed, PTC determined to implement a self-service vendor portal system by way of RFP. The LawTrac eBilling module would need to integrate with the new Vendor Portal, so implementation of the LawTrac eBilling module was postponed. Other licensing and services costs were paid, but the eBilling services were not, as they had not been delivered.
When the separate Vendor Portal system RFP was awarded and implementation initiated, it was determined that LawTrac eBilling integration exceeded the scope of the LawTrac contract. PTC also required a separate testing environment (copy of the production system), which had not been included in the original contract scope. These two items could not be procured unless additional contact value authorization was approved by Commissioners. The terms and conditions of the contract remained the same, only the scope of services was slightly expanded.