I’m sure folks in the procurement community are aware of the emergency contracting activities of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which has been in the news after awarding a $300 million contract to a small Montana-based company called Whitefish. (For background, we covered this article in our Newswire daily email.)
The contract is currently being reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to determine whether the appropriate procurement processes were followed by PREPA, and what involvement (if any) the federal government had in the outcome. While it may be coincidental, Whitefish is based in the same hometown as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and, according to recent press, only had two employees when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.
On the other side of the equation, Whitefish has specialized experience in “difficult and mountainous terrain projects” and was one of 7 companies interviewed by PREPA. So perhaps the award decision makes perfect sense.
At any rate, the questions raised by this story as they relate to public procurement are notable and worth asking. Here are a few that I have:
1 – How do you balance the need to move quickly in a contingency situation with the need to award best value procurements?
2 – What are the appropriate tradeoffs we need to be comfortable with in contingency contracting when it comes to transparency?
3 – What are the tradeoffs in terms of competition in contracting & speed to contract?
What does everyone think? What questions does this story raise for you?
Director, Learning & Content Development