Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County

County 5 Covers-Up Bogus Rankings
Powell & Jones Gets the Audit Nod, Again

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – It was no surprise when on Thursday night, the County 5 rubber stamped the bogus ranking of the 4 decade long County outside auditor, financial advisor, and county budget right hand man, Richard Powell of Powell & Jones. Other than Commissioner Bucky Nash, no one asked any questions and Commissioner Nash left out the most important question.

Acting County Manager Ben Scott introduced the resolution approving the Audit Committee ranking. He ran through the procedure which resulted in ranking Powell first.

He explained that compensation was not a factor considered in the County's Request for Proposals (RFP) or the rankings. He never mentioned that it could have been.

Mr. Scott referred to Florida Statute 218.391 as the controlling statute used in the RFP process.

The statute allows for an RFP with or without prices. The County chose the no price option.

The County's RFP was in actuality a "Request for Qualifications and Technical Proposal." The term, Request for Qualifications, is a term which was used throughout the County's RFP.


The County could have asked for a Sealed-Dollar-Cost bid to be included with the proposal, which would have included a total All-Inclusive-Maximum-Price for the audit; rates for professional services of Partners and other staff members and anticipated times and deadlines; out of pocket expenses; etc.

Once the firms were evaluated (see evaluation criteria below) the bids would have been opened and the bidders would have been awarded up to 30% of the bid points.

If the bidder was local, that is where the 5% price-point bidding point preference would have been legally applied.

The statute requires that the County first negotiate with the firm ranked first.

There is nothing in FL stat. 218.391 which awards a 5% local preference bonus to the ranking scores.

The County's purchasing policy does not award a 5% local option bonus be applied to the ranking scores.

The firms were ranked on the following:

• Firms Past Experience and performance on comparable government engagements
• Qualification and abilities of personnel to be assigned and the quality of the firm's management support personnel
• Firm's internal review process, quality controls, adequacy of staff to perform the required audits and familiarity
• Adequacy of proposed staffing plan for various segments of the engagement
• Adequacy of sampling techniques
• Adequacy of analytical procedures

Commissioner Nash Ignores the 5%

Commissioner Nash was the only commissioner who questioned Mr. Scott. Commissioner Nash had knowledge of the 5% controversy and left out any reference to it in his questions, which were mostly a rehash of what Mr. Scott had already mentioned.

Commissioner Nash asked, "We have done this before with the same type of score sheets and different things like that?"

Mr. Scott said they had used similar score sheets in the past.

       Richard Powell

Eliminating the 5% bogus local preference, two firms were tied for first and two for second, with one point separating the four firms.

Before the vote Chairman DePratter addressed the Board: "I'll make one comment and then I'll call the vote. You know it was stated that this board did it wrong. It's always stated that way. Well this time it's just the Sheriff, Clerk, Property Appraiser and Tax Collector – so I guess they all do it wrong. I'm welcoming you all to the club."

Mr. DePratter omitted the fact that while the Constitutional Officers [Sheriff, etc.] each individually evaluated the firms, no one said they did anything wrong. It was the County Commission Staff that did the tabulations.

Nobody mentioned that.


The Infamous Columbia County 5: The legend continues.

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