DPS to waive 48 hour rule to hire ad agency for 4 years

Full disclosure: My firm, The Next Wave, did some work for the new superintendent Rhonda Corr last summer. At the end of the proposed solution was a pricing matrix that included an option to take over the complete marketing operations of the district, that were being handled by 3 people (2 of whom retired Dec 31, 2016). An RFP went out that was so badly constructed it lead me to write this post: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide (for Governmental Organizations). The board was supposed to vote to pick an agency on Sept. 20, and work was to begin Sept 21. They blew that date, and on Nov 1. 2016 the purchasing department under treasurer Hiwot Abraha tried to push the district to hire The Ohlmann Group of Dayton, who were the high bidder. The number isn’t showing anymore on BoardDocs but if I recall correctly it was over $360,000. The board refused. Dr. Baguirov even questioned why the bids always go to large firms, and pass over veteran owned businesses (like mine). Some of this was covered in the post: The calamity named Rhonda Corr

So here we are again. The treasurer launched an RFQ this time, just as convoluted. There was no award date, nor was there a set time frame. They capped it at $300,000. There was no guarantee of award. It was supposed to be a request for qualifications, but asked for solutions- much like an RFP. They wanted everything submitted as an attachment- the language looked like it had been run through a cut and paste machine from several other RFPs. The purchasing department has zero expertise in hiring creative firms. The due date was January 20 2018.

There was a single communication to bidders at 10pm on Saturday night Feb 4 2017:

Dear Responders: Thank you for your interest in DPS Request For Qualifications for Comprehensive Marketing Services. Responses have been evaluated and results provided for review and determination of a recommendation to the DPS Board of Education. It is expected that the recommendation will appear on the February 21, 2017 business meeting agenda. Selected firm(s) will be contacted to negotiate contract terms and conditions.

Lie number one was that the results were presented to the board of education. Lie number 2 is that it will appear on the Feb 21 agenda.

It’s now on the Feb 14 agenda- with a request to waive the 48 hour rule, and award it once again to the Ohlmann Group, this time, for $112,500 with 3 1 year options for a total of $450,000.

If you look at contracts presented to the Dayton City Commission, you can actually examine the contract that they are about to approve. In this case, all we see is this boilerplate:

Contracted services to provide Comprehensive Marketing Services for DPSD to include, but may not be limited to Public Relation Services, Print/Media Design & Management, Marketing Consulting Services, Social/Digital Media Services , Web Development, and other services to be determined by a defined “Statement Of Work.” Effective February 15,2017 thru February 14, 2019. To include three (3),one (1)-year options to be exercised at the sole discretion of OBOE. February 14, 2017 Board Agenda

Compare this to the text of the Nov 1 attempt to hire Ohlmann for over 3x more:

Contracted services to provide Comprehensive Marketing Services for DPSD to include, but may not be limited to Public Relation Services, Print/Media Design & Management, Marketing Consulting Services,  Social/Digital Media Services, Web Development, and other services to be determined by a defined Statement Of Work” Effective November 1, 2016-thru October 31, 2017. Funds to follow

And the public can evaluate these and weigh in how? With the 48 hour rule waived each time?

Of course, the public didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the 3 year contract awarded to Rhonda Corr either- which came as a surprise a few weeks ago, and basically, paid her as much as they were paying Lori Ward- who actually got them out of academic emergency and never caused the community to practically shout down the school board over mid-year reductions in force.

Considering the second RFQ talked about a rebrand, but didn’t specify timelines, budgets, all I can ask is how can DPS afford to hire Ohlmann Group who charged the City of Dayton $25K for a logo that looks a lot like what Fairborn bought for $20K. That’s about a quarter of their first years budget for DPS, gone.

There is no reason to skip the 48 hour rule to start this contract. It’s just an attempt to make sure the public and the school board, doesn’t look closely at this.

I’ll be putting in a public records request to see the bids and the score sheets, for both rounds. It’s time to shine some sunshine on the DPS procurement process.

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