PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Voters in Philadelphia will be asked to decide on an arcane bit of city business when they go to the polls on Tuesday. They’ll be asked to change the 65-year-old law of awarding contracts to the lowest responsible bidder.
The question asks, “Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the award of certain contracts based on best value to the City?” The city’s Chief Administrative Officer Christine Derenick Lopez hopes you’ll say yes.
“This is going to allow us to make decisions based on more than price alone,” Lopez said. “We’ll be able to take vendor performance into consideration. We’ll be able to look at other criteria.”
Derenick Lopez says it’s a much-needed modernization for complex contracts. She points to 18 of the country’s 20 largest cities, all of which have converted to best value, as evidence of its efficiency. It has the endorsement of watchdog Committee of Seventy. It also has its critics. Contract lawyer Chris McCabe says expanding the criteria builds in too much subjectivity.
“Looking at price is the best determination of the best value to the city,” McCabe said.
Price would still be a factor. “Lowest responsible bidder” would still be used for simple contracts.
A second ballot question, asking for the creation of a Community Reinvestment Commission, to coordinate improvement efforts, hasn’t generated any controversy.