Rogue Agencies: Lower tier publics with little oversight gone rogue?
Topic keywords: Integrity in Public Procurement, Bribery in Public Procurement, Fighting Bid Rigging in Public Procurement, Preventing Corruption in Public Procurement
In reviewing various quasi public agencies that are near purely funded by donations, federal funding, state funding, and various grants, actions by the leaders of these agencies raise the question of if the actions are in the complete interest of the public. Further, if there is enough evidence or even collateral factors such as the environment, or some other trending force to hang an excuse on, can these agencies that operate with little oversight serve both the public interest while also serving themselves at the same time? Because of little oversight and the ability to potentially use a perceived greater cause as a means to gather funding, these types of agencies that are ultimately public could be tempted to engage in activities that enrich themselves using public monies while in a position of a public servant. The start of these types of issues usually begin in the procurement process that typically brings product and service providers in the private sector to offer on agency desires. Besides administrative methods to drain public funds, the procurement side is where most of the behind closed door deal making takes place. It can be deemed so professional that event these public officials become of the belief that they are not doing any harmful acts that the public may not approve of.
While browsing through recent internet search results regarding disputes and abuses by these generally unregulated agencies, we refer to an article in Oregon, U.S. published by a media outlet that illustrates the point of discussion here: https://goo.gl/Nir5wU
The article is a great recent example and is educational material of our general discussion: Integrity in Public Procurement. The article makes reference to some questionable acts done during a procurement process where the agency disqualified a bidder for what appears to be a single arguable reason while then using another service provider at a questionably much higher price. See more search result details here: https://goo.gl/h1HmEs
This leads into questions about why: Was it about the type of product? Was it ultimately a sole source desire to use the other product provider? Does the agency have a trend of doing these similar acts or using the same provider in the past? Many more questions come to mind. Back to lower tier agencies, their lack of true oversight and how they came into being, the agency in question is a derivative from what used to be the responsibility of the department of interior. The agency spin-offs date back to the Irrigation District Act of 1916 and even earlier in some cases. These agencies are similar to a water utility in many respects, but have a higher dependency on the use of public funds.
Whether the agency was right or wrong in its actions are up for debate. However, this right/wrong issue is second to the issue of whether or not these public servants use their position to gain personally while proclaiming to be in the service of public interest.
Since more information can be found through investigation, interested parties should perform records requests to look at other specific evidence related to wrong doing and ignorance of the public trust and even the processes put into place at the federal and state levels. These agencies are required to provide almost all of their documentation because the are considered public. The public and those who advocate for Integrity in Public Procurement need to do more to look at these types of forgotten agencies to make sure that the disease of Corruption in Public Procurement does not continue to spread.
We encourage all interested parties, including researchers, institutions, and government regulatory agencies, to be on the consistent lookout to improve the public procurement processes and the potential professional abuses of various lower tier agencies that appear to have little or no oversight.