Friday, June 09, 2006

Purchasing Director Discusses Scoring Rules

In Milwaukee today, the first witness of the fifth day of the Georgia Thompson trial is Helen McCain, director of state purchasing for the Department of Administration. She has worked in state government for 31 years. McCain will testify that state regulations encourage RFP evaluators to discuss their scores and that the rules permit and often encourage change of scores after discussion, according to an earlier filing from defense attorney Stephen Hurley.

The purpose of procurement and the RFP process is to "get the best value" for the state "because we're using taxpayer money," McCain said.

With prompting from Hurley, McCain discussed a hypothetical situation in which one evaluator's score for a vendor is significantly lower than the scores from other evaluators. She said it is appropriate for committee members to discuss their scores to figure out reasons for discrepancies.

McCain said members are allowed to ask others if they'd like to change their scores, but may not direct others to do so.

"You can't ask if they'd like to change their score - you can not direct anyone to change their score because (evaluators) are all equal," she said.

McCain said evaluators are permitted to go back and change scores on the written portion based on information obtained in the oral presention.

She also said evaluators are supposed to grade vendors on substance, not style. "You should score them based on whay they're showing you. You're not there to evaluate a vendor's personality, you're there to evaluate what they're presenting," she said.

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