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Thumbs down: Botched bid process undermines confidence

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

West Virginia University's decision to rebid a contract for multimedia rights for some of its athletic events is a no-brainer, considering what the state's attorney general found in his review of the initial bidding process.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said this week that he found no intentional wrongdoing, but he did conclude that "significant errors and sloppiness" had occurred.

Morrisey was asked by WVU to review the bidding process after one of the competing companies this year raised questions and charged that it was skewed in favor of the company tentatively selected for the contract.

The attorney general stressed that if proper procedures had been followed, the outcome may not have changed. Many of the rules and policies set out in the request for proposals and the university's procurement procedures weren't followed.

Morrisey found that members were added to the contract evaluation committee after the process was started, that two of the original three members of the committee were not given adequate time to vote and that a system for scoring the proposal was abandoned midstream. Some confidentiality rules were violated, and two members of the Board of Governors failed to disclose that they had financial interests that could have been affected by the outcome.

West Virginians should expect better from those running the state's flagship university.

The episode is not only a lesson for WVU officials, but for all public bodies handling contracts for either purchasing goods and services or selling certain rights. Strictly following the rules for a fair and unbiased selection process is vital to ensuring the integrity of such deals and protecting the public's interests.

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