At the July 8 meeting, the City Commissioners introduced an ordinance that increases restrictions on contact between the City and vendors during competitive solicitation for goods and services. Ordinance 20-O-04 amends Section 2-357 of the Code of General Ordinances.
Notably, the ordinance will change the effective date of the “cone of silence”—the period of time when communications are prohibited between the City and a vendor. Under the ordinance, the “cone of silence” will begin on the date and time when the solicitation is publicly released. Currently, the cone of silence begins on the submission due date of the solicitation response.
According to the meeting agenda, the modifications to Section 2-357 include:
• Clarifies that the prohibited communications period—commonly referred to as a “cone of silence”—goes into effect at the date and time a competitive solicitation is released to the public. The current language has the prohibited communication beginning on the date the solicitation response was due to be submitted.
• Specifies that any communication during the “cone of silence” must be directed to the Procurement Services Division or the assigned Purchasing Agent. A vendor or their representative may not communicate with a City Commissioner or commissioner’s staff, or any city employee serving on a competitive solicitation evaluation committee during the “cone of silence.”
• Removes the provision exempting purchases less than $50,000 from the prohibited communications period.
• Establishes repercussions should a vendor or their representative engage in prohibited communications during the “cone of silence.” This includes disqualification from the solicitation process, rejection of any bid received, or termination of any resulting contract as determined by the Procurement Manager. In addition, engaging in prohibited communications shall be grounds for suspension or debarment of a vendor, person or their representative under this code for one year.
Staff reports that the modifications will reduce the likelihood of conflicts of interest and strengthen ethical standards for communications between the City and vendors.
The public hearing for Ordinance 20-O-04 is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2020.