Sunday, July 13, 2014

County still lacks purchase policies

February 18. 2013 2:09PM
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Luzerne County still has no formal purchasing policy detailing how supplies and services must be procured under the new home rule government.
County council adopted an administrative code in July that said the manager must develop uniform procurement policies, procedures and regulations.
Michael Giamber, a county government watchdog, repeatedly has questioned the lack of a formal policy and again pressed county officials to revisit the matter at last week’s council meeting. The home rule transition team had presented a “very comprehensive” proposed purchasing and acquisition policy, Giamber said.
Purchasing provisions were included in the proposed administrative code but later removed to give the manager time and flexibility to develop a policy.
County Manager Robert Lawton said a draft policy is in the works that will be based on best practices in other areas and a “number of sources,” including the policy proposed by the home rule transition committee.
In the interim, the administration has been complying with purchasing and acquisition mandates in the home rule charter, Lawton said. “Where appropriate and necessary, we are competitively acquiring goods and services,” he said.
Under the charter, publicly advertised bids or fee proposals are required for purchases exceeding $25,000. At least three documented quotes must be obtained for purchases between $2,500 and $25,000.
The charter mandates written procedures defining advertising and vendor bonding requirements and other “conditions, terms, rules and regulations desirable for an efficient and effective competitive bidding process.”
The manager approves purchases and must seek council approval only when a contract would cost the county $25,000 in any future year or $75,000 in two or more future years, impacting future budgets.
Council clearance is not required for other purchases, because it’s the manager’s responsibility to follow purchasing procedures and live within the council-approved budget, charter drafters have said.
Lawton has posted copies of contracts he has approved through December under his section of the county website, .
The administration continues to interview applicants for the county purchasing director position vacated by Frank Pugliese’s resignation in September. County grant writer Michele Sparich has taken on the additional purchasing director duties in the interim.
The position will pay $40,000 to $50,000, according to the advertisement.

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