The Port of Houston Authority Procurement Task Force today held a spirited discussion of several issues, but deferred action on all of them until future meetings. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Senior Vice President and General Counsel Erik A. Eriksson had prepared an extensive package of recommendations regarding revised conflict of interest procedures, but Commissioner Janiece Longoria was concerned that the recommendations do not address the situation that occurred with U.S. Security Associates, where the son of a manager of the firm worked for a subcontractor.
“I really need some time to thoroughly review it and work with Mr. Eriksson to try to come up with a plan that would be suitable for the Port of Houston to assure that we have the strongest ethics policy of any governmental subdivision,” Longoria said.
During the task force’s discussion of a request for proposals for a contract for security gate officers Captain Marcus Woodring, senior managing director of port security and emergency operations, said he was not including a subcontractor requirement in the RFQ, to avoid possible conflicts.
“It is a huge contract and it got us into trouble last time,” Woodring said, citing his military background. “The chain of command is very clear and very short if you have one contractor. And if you have a large company that is providing 100 people to service our gates and we have one on-site supervisor from that company, it is much easier to turn to that one person - or have my facility security officer – turn to that person and say ‘we need to do this’, rather than passing that along to a subcontractor on down the line.”
Commissioner Jimmy Burke agreed on the elimination of the subcontractor requirement from the RFQ, but Commissioner Kase Lawal was adamantly opposed.
“When we are talking about security, when we are talking about the overwhelming majority of those who are going to actually carry out those duties and responsibilities, I can’t be a party to a procurement process like this,” Lawal said. “Then I guess after this meeting I am going to resign as the chairman of the procurement committee.”
Because of Lawal’s strong opposition to eliminating the subcontractor requirement of the RFQ, Longoria and Burke agreed to allow it to remain as one element of the RFQ, but to not rule out any respondents who do not include subcontractors in their proposals. This appeased Lawal’s concern.
The task force also discussed County Attorney Vince Ryan’s recommendation that the port consider an interlocal agreement with Harris County to use the services of the county’s purchasing agent. That discussion will be continued at a future meeting when the county attorney and the purchasing agent will be invited to attend the meeting to explain how the port would benefit from such an agreement.