City accused of shady bid process

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Hi-Tech Computer Systems Inc., a company with an office in Jemison, say they are upset with the city of Selma over what they believe is a rigged bidding process.

According to the company, the city of Selma awarded a bid to Gov Connection on Tuesday for equipment to be used at the Selma Police Department. That computer company is based in New Hampshire.

The equipment includes digital cameras, camera bags, memory sticks, adapters and software packages.

Hi-Tech CEO Terry Counts said Tuesday that he is disgusted with the bidding practices of the city. He believes his company offered the lowest bid and was schemed out of getting the contract from the city.

On June 26, Hi-Tech originally bid $4,955.75 for the equipment, which they said was the lowest bid compared to all other competitors.

However, Mike Atkinson, an operations manager at Hi-Tech, said the bid did not include software.

According to bidding specifications forms faxed to the company by the city of Selma, the bid was re-opened on July 23, asking that software also be included in the bid.

Bidding specifications faxed to The Times-Journal by Hi-Tech show that the city specifically asked for five units of software.

Atkinson said the company added the units of software to the original price, increasing the bid to $5,459.75.

The company then received a fax from the city of Selma asking that bid be re-opened to Tuesday, Aug. 6, rather than July 23.

Hi-Tech officials were surprised to learn Tuesday that they would not receive the bid. According to Hi-Tech, Gov Connection bid $5,155, or $304.75 less.

According to Counts, the reason his company did not receive the bid was that the city had suddenly asked that one unit of software be included in the bid rather than five. He also said the type of software which the company had assumed the city wanted was not the correct software.

Counts said his company knew nothing about the new specifications until Tuesday.

Said Counts, &uot;We didn’t hear anything about this,&uot; before Aug. 6. &uot;If we had known, we would have changed our bid.&uot;

City Finance Director Bob Sanders tells a different story.

Sanders said that the original bid made by Hi Tech, with five units of software added to the price, totaled $7,577.75, rather than $5,459.75 &045; something which Hi Tech firmly denies.

Sanders said Hi-Tech was told they only needed one unit of software, and the $5,459.75 figure quoted by Hi-Tech included only one unit of software rather than five.

Sanders added that the city could award the bid to any company they wished, because, according to state bidding laws, only if the bid is over $7,500, &uot;does the bid law kick in.&uot;

Counts believes the city has bidding practices that will eventually cost the citizens money.

On the bid sheet, four companies were listed as being sent requests for a bid. Only Hi-Tech and Gov Connections responded.

Counts went so far as to say he may not do anymore business with Selma if this bid falls through.

Selma City Clerk Jackie Smith, who was the purchasing agent in the bidding process, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.