The Sole-Source 'Out of the Dark Ages' Argument

Open competition and no-bid contracts have received quite a bit of attention here in Washington, but the idea seems to have taken some time to get out to other parts of the country. In Lake County, Indiana, for example, the county commissioners is considering opening up a $1.9 million, four-year no-bid contract for data processing it first awarded to Cenifax Management Services in 1992. The contract had recently been awarded to Cenifax on a sole-source basis, but a Good Government study conducted for Lake County, a suburb of Chicago, recommended the county put the contract up for competitive bidding. Most commissioners think that’s a good idea. "I say put it up for bid and see what others have to offer," said Lake County Sheriff Rogelio "Roy" Dominguez. "The numbers of vendors and services have increased over the years."

The reason to keep the contract as a sole-source contract, according to Council President Christine Cid, is because she "spoke with a couple of officials to get a feel with whether they were happy with the services, and no one had any complaints." After all, says Mark Pearman, executive director of contractor Cenifax, "We brought the county out of the dark ages. The Good Government study didn't show we have an online docket for all the town and city courts or the county's courts data on the Internet, something no one else in the state has to our degree."

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