Jeremy's Notebook

RFP-Lite, or ‘Meander, Meander, Meander’

August 9, 2013

wilson, lumonBy mid-September, the Escambia County Commission should be selecting the search firm that will be helping to select a permanent county administrator. The board decided last night to extend the period for interested search firms to bid on the job, but to have the process completed soon enough to have an administrator in place by December or February.

Commissioner Lumon May began the conversation because he said the county’s mention of the consulting job on its website—which has been posted for a couple of weeks—was not doing the trick. The commissioner said he had heard from interested parties who were unable to find the listing.

“Frankly, it’s hard to find,” conceded Human Resources Director Tom Turner, adding that the listing is still on the county’s website.

May requested that the board extend the call for firms—“I think that there are local people that need the opportunity to bid on this work”—and other commissioners warmed up to the concept quickly, with Commissioner Wilson Robertson and Chairman Gene Valentino pushing for a traditional Request for Proposals (RFP).

“If it takes six weeks, if it takes two months, we still can meet that ultimate goal of February,” said Robertson.

Commissioners Steven Barry and Grover Robinson, however, were not open to such a timeframe, lobbying for the search firm to be in place by mid-September. They said stretching the process out longer risked missing the target date for hiring a new administrator, which ranges from December to February.

“If you do an RFP, you’re talking 60, 90-plus days—that’s not what I’m talking about at all,” Barry said. “If we don’t set dates up here this process will meander, meander, meander as it has.”

After Budget Director Amy Lavoy explained that the commission could stipulate the timeframe of the RFP process, the board decided to continue advertising for a search firm for another 28 days (its first meeting in September). The county’s Administrator Search Advisory Committee will then vet the applicants, presenting the board with their findings by the commission’s second meeting on Sept. 16.

“I don’t think it changes our timetable of when we’re hiring a county administrator,” May said.

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