The RCS District RFP Is an Embarassment and a Sham!

17 Aug

Warning: If you are a student or a minor, please leave this blog NOW!

When I See a Request for Proposals that is So Poorly Written or Fails To Attract Qualified Applicants Three Thoughts Come to Mind:

1) Either the writer has no idea what s/he’s doing and hasn’t a clue how to write an RFP.
(But what about the business manager the district is paying, shouldn’t she know how to write an effective RFP?)

2) The writer has no intention of attracting qualified applicants and is simply complicating the application process to discourage qualified applicants.
3) Both 1) and 2).

Something I’d Expect to Find in the RCS Concessions RFP!

We’ve Received A Copy of A Reader’s Message to the entire RCS board of education and to both the RCS Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth “Betsy” Smith and the RCS CSD business manager, Ms Diane Malecki. Rather than discuss it, it’s actually worth publishing in its entirety. The reader says it all:

Ladies, Gentlemen:
 I am forwarding this message to all members of the board with the exception of Howard “Bray” Engel,Edward “Teddy” Reville, and Judy Sylvester, whose e-mail links do not work on the RCS CSD BoE webpage.
I have read through the RFP that is available from the RCS CSD website and find it to be a completely substandard document in terms of clarity, composition, wording, pitiful grammar, incorrect terms, vagueness and ambiguousness, and general content.
The author appears not to have any knowledge of the purpose and intent of an RFP nor the difference between an RFP and a contract.
The document is entirely an amateurish embarassment to the district and anyone who had a hand in its drawing!
Quite frankly, the fact that it was released on or about August 9, 2012, and requires receipt of proposals by an express deadline of August 16, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. is absoulutely unrealistic by any standard! Notwithstanding the delays in mailing and returning the proposal by the bidder, the materials could not possibly be properly read and digested, not to mention discussed and questions formulated, in that time. It is ridiculous to expect that all of the required documentation could be assembled and submitted in that short period.
The general impression made by the document is that it was ostensibly drawn in haste, and with an with an express purpose of discouraging or rendering impossible any good faith response by any conscientious bidder. I also question whether this was in fact the sole intention of this RFP in order to satisfy one sector of the community while favoring another. This question will likely be brought up at the next BoE meeting.
Another troubling aspect of the release of this RFP document is the obvious fact that it was not written by a competent writer and quite clearly was not reviewed by a competent reviewer, much less by a competent business administrator or legal professional or paraprofessional. That fact notwithstanding, it is a gross violation of protocol and of the prerogatives of the board of edcuation that the document was written and released without apparently consulting the BoE. It is my understanding that the BoE should have reviewed the document before its release to the public and, further, that the BoE had final approval or rejection authority over the document. It seems that that protocol was egregiously and perhaps speciously abused and violated. That is another question that will likely be addressed to Mme Superintendent at the next BoE meeting.
Under no circumstances should this call for public bids be considered licit or even legal under the circumstances, and the entire process should be declared null and void, and the RFP recalled until it can be properly done.
I am attaching a copy of the RFP that I reviewed. I have included comments in the first 6 pages of the document but the overall quality of the writing and of the document content was so abominable that a thorough or complete commentary on it would have been prohibitive in terms of time and effort. The comments I have made in the first 6 pages are generally characteristic for the rest of the document, however.
Should you have any questions regarding this communication, I shall be more than happy to address them on request.
One final note: I have communicated on at least two occasions with Mme Superintendant Elizabeth Smith with specific requests and questions. The lead time for her responses is unacceptable. I have not received a single response yet to two previous inquiries.
[Name Withheld by Request]
[Click here to read the Marked Up RFP]
So what’s the reason you put out such a piece of garbage, Ms Betsy Smith. Is it that you cant write an effective Request for Proposals, or is it more accurate that you intentionally made the process so unwieldy, so complicated, and so burdensome specifically to discourage local businesses from applying. That sounds more like an RCS tactic, doesn’t it. Make it so complicated and burdensome or expensive an no outside buinesses will apply. Then you won’t get any flack whey you simply say no one applied and so now we have to give the concessions to the “new” RCS Athletic Association. Right? Is that it, Betsy?
Another reader raises the interesting question of why it would be necessary for a local business to surrender anything to the District. After all, the local business is paying considerable amounts of tax to the benefit of the District and town, is providing a needed and desirable service for the spectators of sports (note: not “sporting”) and athletics events, in virtue of the bidding process are the best value for the money, and in contrast with the RCS Sports Association, are legal and authentic. And on top of that the District wants a cut of the gross proceeds from the concession. Give us all a break and dispense with the greed, Missy!
And are we correct in assuming that the “new” RCS Sports/Athletics Association will be held to the same standards as any other bidder? One would reasonably expect so, of course. And that their documents will be available for public inspection.
Note also, that this doesn’t let the “old” RCS Sports/Athletics Association off the hook, does it? Or does it, Mme Superintendant? That investigation should be and is ongoing, we would reasonably expect.
Well, we’ve seen through the trickery and it wasn’t hard at all to do. Are we paying more than $140,000 a year for an amateur? No, two amateurs: the Superintendant and the RCS district school business manager (Diane Malecki)! How much taxpayer money does that add up to?

We agree with the recommendation made by the reader: The present RPF is a sham and must be recalled without prejudice, and be reviewed by competent individuals, submitted to the board of education for review, comment, and ultimate approval, and then, ONLY then, be released to the public in a form that is clear, unambiguous, correct, and which makes it possible to respond professionally and in good faith.

Cup Seen on
Superintendent Smith’s Desk.

Ms Smith, Ms Malecki: You both should be embarassed, chagrined and personally shamed for allowing such a piece of rubbish to have gone out to the public in the first place. We shall discuss the technical apects in an upcoming article which we recommend you read and study for your own benefit. We shall be examining the possible motivations and purposes in sending out the RFP in it’s shameful form in yet another article. 

Is this in the budget?
The Editor

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6 responses to “The RCS District RFP Is an Embarassment and a Sham!

  1. Simon

    August 20, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I think it’s fairly clear that the RFP (I read it off the school’s web site) was a template given to them by likely their attorney and VERY poorly edited to fit the situation. I also thought that it was very hard to understand.

    I figured the reason for the wacky dates (I also thought it was too short a time for a legit response) was the first football game on 9/1. Perhaps due to the meeting schedule such an unusual time schedule was necessary?



    • Fides qua Creditur

      August 20, 2012 at 7:32 am

      It’s amazing that whatever comes out of that district office is a disaster! It seems to be first runner-up to the Coeymans police department for incompetence and as a scandal mill.

      That RFP should have been no more that 2-4 pages max. in length and at least read through before having been sent out. And many of the requirements and claims in the document were either plainly idiotic, inappropriate, or unwarranted. Some were even misleading or illegal.

      How on earth could anyone seriously respond to the thing in good faith, notwithstanding the unrealistic timeframes!



      • Simon

        August 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

        You’d be surprised what state law makes you put in those RFPs. Stuff that (a) everyone knows [as it’s state law anyways] and (b) may totally not pertain to the situation. Lawyers run amok.

        I remember the good-old-days when your business manager actually put out the RFPs. Now you need the team of lawyers.

        Did the Board President or anyone see the RFP before it went out? In today’s technology age, I see no reason why the RFP couldn’t have been emailed out to all the members for quick comments before it went out. I find it difficult to say the Superintendent or the Business Manager were torpedoing this when that would be a self-defeating act – – there’s so much attention on this now I personally wouldn’t want it redirected to me by trying to gear it a certain way.

        Do you think the BoE is regretting hiring Ms. Smith as Superintendent without doing a full search and putting it out for extended interviews? That may be the real issue here.



      • Fides qua Creditur

        August 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

        As far as including state laws or guidelines or regulations, as was noted in the marked up copy that was sent to Smith and the entire BoE, the way to put the bidder on notice that certain statutes or guidelines apply is simply to say, “XYZ shall apply in pertient part to this RFP, the successful bid, and the awarded contract, and XYX shall be included therein in its entirety by reference.” My objection is that substantial and excessive contract language was included in the RFP, which by any standard is inappropriate. Anyone can put together an effective and legal RFP for such a concession activity in a day and it would be more than complete for the purposes of a concession RFP if it comprised 2-4 pages.

        Any specific and pertinent applicable state law or regulations would be the subject of the bidder’s conference and presentation, and would be included as an integral part of the final contract.

        The up-front payment of an exhorbitant $2000 is ludicrous. The payment of a portion of the gross revenues is also inappropriate, considering that the vendor must foot the bill for all operating expenses. All things considered, the vendor may be asked to make an appropriate donation for the use of fixed facilities on the field or to pay a fee for promotion in the program or by way of announcements during the games. There are many ways of negotiating these sorts of things.

        According to a reliable source, the board of edcuation was not provided with the opportunity to review the RFP before it went out. I am at a loss why the thing was not e-mailed to the board members with the request that they review it and comment on it before it went out…that is not to say that I believe that the BoE would have approved the document without extensive comment and revisions.

        And YES, it was shooting one’s self in the foot to have produced such an unrefined document, which was obviously not reviewed or checked by a competent English speaker, and worse still to have sent it out in such a voluminous and unwieldy form, with unrealistic return dates. Superintendent Smith has been in Florida and will be returning today, I believe, so there wasn’t even anyone with approval authority in the area on the due date set for the return of proposals!!!! That’s information I received from a reliable source and Smith has not replied to several reader’s e-mails so it is credible that she has been away.

        While Elizabeth Smith may have been a laudable elementary school principal, she obviously lacks the professional superintendent backgorund and skills to perform in her present position. I am at a loss why someone was hired and placed in such a visible and responsible position without having done a thorough candidate search and having created a qualified selection committee to make the final decision from a group of shortlisted applicants. But then, perhaps an RCS-style RFP was sent out with the present results. But the damage is done and continues to be inflicted on this district. The saga never seems to end, does it?

        The Editor


  2. Pundit

    August 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I understand there is an RFP put out by the RCS School District for Concession Services-for lack of a better or more accurate term. Apparently one could pick up or printed out a copy without signing for it leaving both that person and the District not knowing about each other which, in turn leaves both out in limbo with regard to updates advising of prospective bidders(ones who can afford $2000) and of details concerning a bidders conference that surely has to be convened so everyone is on equal footing.

    I am happy the RFP is published on the RCS Website – now we all can know and understand the process and outcome. It is interesting that the release date was August 9th, with responses due back by August 16th and Evaluation and Selection done on the 17th with the Award on the 21st! Quite a tight schedule!

    It apparently will take just one day to Evaluate-I am sure the Board will have adequate time to review the bids and recommendation and then approve the winner!! Don’t get me wrong, the RFP is the way to go but, take a serious look at the document and its parameters….how many locals can really bid?

    It looks like the bidder will specify the total amount of the proceeds to be ‘given’ to the District—at the end of each sporting event no less! Prior to reading this I was under the impression that requests for services were awarded to the lowest bidder–all else being equal. The RCS concessions should be there for the convenience of the attendees and priced accordingly-not to be sure the District gets the most money back. I don’t want to dole out $2.00 for a cup of Hot Chocolate so that RCS can recoup $.75 or a Dollar!

    Given that premise, I guess my company should/could bid on a paving job and specify how much we will be ‘giving’ to the municipality wanting the work done!! Quite a novel idea!! Up until this idea, the municipality put out the specs and we bid-lowest bonafide bidder gets the award. The savings over the 2nd place bidder is the Municipality’s reward.

    It is worthy of note that the location of the concession stand-for lack of a better term- is not specified and neither is the number of Events. In fact, a definition of ‘Sporting Events’ is not included either! RFPs need all the facts and pertinent information to allow fair and equitable evaluation and award–and a bidders conference so that all potential respondents have the same exact information.

    It is also worthy of note that RCS can cancel the ‘contract’ without reason!! If that is the case, then why have a contract?

    While bidding services is a good and important thing, it must be done correctly, else….

    Thanks for the opportunity-it is appreciated and I am happy the District is moving to bidding on this item-it will eventually serve to clear up a situation that got a bit ugly.

    It is difficult for me to believe our Board of Education or Business Office would let a document like this get out to the public. Surely both are ultimately responsible for its contents.

    Just one person’s opinion.


    • Fides qua Creditur

      August 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Hello, Pundit, and thank you for your comment.

      We are aware of the RFP and are preparing our comments.

      Your elation might be a bit premature, however. But far be it from me to put a damper on your initial positivity;)

      The document that I downloaded from the RCS CSD site is a disgrace. Very poorly written. If the writing is characteristic of the English and business studies being taught at RCS, then the place should be razed to the ground!

      Stay tuned for our official observations.

      The Editor



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