Audit says HISD isn’t cost sensitive enough

An audit of HISD’s procurement process says the district could be paying too much for some things.

The audit, conducted by the nonprofit Council of the Great City Schools, found that the district’s purchasing standards “under-value” a vendor’s proposed price in some cases, which means the district could be paying more than it should.

Last year, HISD spent $530 million on classroom supplies, equipment, travel and various services.

When selecting vendors, the district rates them on various factors, which can vary depending on the project. Construction projects give the greatest weight to price, between 55 and 100 percent, the audit found. However, in other cases that were not identified, the district weights price as low as 12.5 percent.

Texas law does not require school districts to use the lowest bidder.

Trustee Mike Lunceford, chairman of the HISD board’s audit committee, said he wants the administration to start providing reasons why it did not select the vendor with the lowest price.

“When we’re voting, it should be very clear, if it’s not the low bid, why,” Lunceford said. “We should be going with the low bid.”

HISD also was knocked in the audit for not disclosing the evaluation criteria in most of its requests for proposals, except for those in the construction area, and for changing the standards in the middle of the process in some cases.

See here for some background. Price isn’t everything, and there are good reasons to consider other factors – hiring practices, environmental issues, a preference for local businesses, and so forth – but these things need to be clearly spelled out and agreed upon, and there needs to be consistency in applying the standard. I’m glad to see these issues brought to light, and I trust the Board will now take the appropriate steps to address them.

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One Response to Audit says HISD isn’t cost sensitive enough

  1. Ross says:

    The goal of any procurement process ought to be to generate a small list of qualified vendors. Once that list is complete, there better be a pretty good reason for not choosing the lowest bidder.

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