Editor’s note: Transition from a single city services contractor to multiple contractors may mean significant savings, but it also could mean big changes at Sandy Springs City Hall. We asked Sandy Springs City Manager John McDonough what he expected.

John McDonough, Sandy Springs City Manager

Q. Were you surprised by the disparities in the dollar amounts of the bids between the new contractors and CH2M HILL?

A. Going into the procurement process, the city felt that the changing dynamics in the competitive market would lead to overall cost savings. There was no way to predict the pricing that would be received from the offerors. The benefit of utilizing a competitive procurement process is that it encourages bidders to offer their most aggressive pricing for the proposed services. Our experience provides verification of our initial assumption.

Q. How can you be sure the new contractors will be able to provide the same level of service that CH2M HILL provided? Are you concerned the city will lose valuable “institutional knowledge” as employees change?

For each of the bidders, a careful investigation was conducted regarding their prior work for different clients. The firms for which they did contract work were contacted to ascertain the performance ratings on their prior work. A comparison was obtained as to the relatedness of such prior work to the work to be performed in Sandy Springs.

The firms awarded contracts and task orders proposed staffing levels in line with the current levels provided by CH2M HILL. During the interview process with the firms, each company was asked if they felt that their proposed staffing levels would be sufficient to meet the workload in Sandy Springs. Without exception, they replied that their approach would result in an equal or higher level of service for the city and our residents.

In addition, each firm made a commitment to retain incumbent contracted staff in order to ensure continuity of operations. The city has every confidence that any loss of knowledge will be minimal.

Q. What happens to the city contract employees? What percentage of the faces in City Hall do you expect to change?

A. Each of the firms awarded contracts and task orders affirmed their intent to maintain a significant share of the incumbent workforce. Transitions of this nature are common among firms holding federal contracts, and the Collaborative, Jacobs and URS have extensive experience transitioning staff from one contractor to their own payroll in limited time periods. Our expectation is that significant number of the incumbent staff will remain in their contract positions with the city. Of course, each contract employee must make their own decision as to whether or not to remain with the city.

Q. How does moving from a single contractor to the new multi-contractor arrangement change your job?

A. Fundamentally, there is no change to my responsibilities and ability to effectively manage as we move from a single contractor to multiple contractors.

Q. Where does the $7 million in savings go? Is it being reallocated for other city services or can taxes be cut?

A. A significant portion will help the City offset the reduction in revenues due to economic conditions. For Fiscal Year 2012, the proposed budget includes a significant allocation to capital improvements that is possible due in part to the savings realized through the competitive process.

Q. If the new bidders save the city $7 million, does that mean the city has been paying too much in recent years?

A. After five years under the “public-private partnership” model, the city was able to develop a more detailed scope of work that reduced the risk for potential bidders. Combined with clearly defined workload indicators, reduced risk and interest expressed by private industry resulted in the achievement of significant savings for the city.

Editor’s note: Transition from a single city services contractor to multiple contractors may mean significant savings, but it also could mean big changes at Sandy Springs City Hall. We asked Sandy Springs City Manager John McDonough what he expected.

 

Were you surprised by the disparities in the dollar amounts of the bids between the new contractors and CH2M HILL?
Going into the procurement process, the city felt that the changing dynamics in the competitive market would lead to overall cost savings.  There was no way to predict the pricing that would be received from the offerors.  The benefit of utilizing a competitive procurement process is that it encourages bidders to offer their most aggressive pricing for the proposed services.  Our experience provides verification of our initial assumption.

How can you be sure the new contractors will be able to provide the same level of service that CH2M HILL provided?  Are you concerned the city will lose valuable “institutional knowledge”  as employees change?
For each of the bidders, a careful investigation was conducted regarding their prior work for different clients.   The firms for which they did contract work were contacted to ascertain the performance ratings on their prior work.   A comparison was obtained as to the relatedness of such prior work to the work to be performed in Sandy Springs.
The firms awarded contracts and task orders proposed staffing levels in line with the current levels provided by CH2M HILL.  During the interview process with the firms, each company was asked if they felt that their proposed staffing levels would be sufficient to meet the workload in Sandy Springs.  Without exception, they replied that their approach would result in an equal or higher level of service for the city and our residents.
In addition, each firm made a commitment to retain incumbent contracted staff in order to ensure continuity of operations.  The city has every confidence that any loss of knowledge will be minimal.

What happens to the city contract employees? What percentage of the faces in City Hall do you expect to change?
Each of the firms awarded contracts and task orders affirmed their intent to maintain a significant share of the incumbent workforce.  Transitions of this nature are common among firms holding federal contracts, and the Collaborative, Jacobs and URS have extensive experience transitioning staff from one contractor to their own payroll in limited time periods.  Our expectation is that significant number of the incumbent staff will remain in their contract positions with the city.  Of course, each contract employee must make their own decision as to whether or not to remain with the city.

How does moving from a single contractor to the new multi-contractor arrangement change your job?
Fundamentally, there is no change to my responsibilities and ability to effectively manage as we move from a single contractor to multiple contractors.

Where does the $7 million in savings go? Is it being reallocated for other city services or can taxes be cut?
A significant portion will help the City offset the reduction in revenues due to economic conditions.  For Fiscal Year 2012, the proposed budget includes a significant allocation to capital improvements that is possible due in part to the savings realized through the competitive process.

If the new bidders save the city $7 million, does that mean the city has been paying too much in recent years?
After five years under the “public-private partnership” model, the city was able to develop a more detailed scope of work that reduced the risk for potential bidders.  Combined with clearly defined workload indicators, reduced risk and interest expressed by private industry resulted in the achievement of significant savings for the city.

Editor’s note: Transition from a single city services contractor to multiple contractors may mean significant savings, but it also could mean big changes at Sandy Springs City Hall. We asked Sandy Springs City Manager John McDonough what he expected.

 

Were you surprised by the disparities in the dollar amounts of the bids between the new contractors and CH2M HILL?

Going into the procurement process, the city felt that the changing dynamics in the competitive market would lead to overall cost savings. There was no way to predict the pricing that would be received from the offerors. The benefit of utilizing a competitive procurement process is that it encourages bidders to offer their most aggressive pricing for the proposed services. Our experience provides verification of our initial assumption.

 

How can you be sure the new contractors will be able to provide the same level of service that CH2M HILL provided? Are you concerned the city will lose valuable “institutional knowledge” as employees change?

For each of the bidders, a careful investigation was conducted regarding their prior work for different clients. The firms for which they did contract work were contacted to ascertain the performance ratings on their prior work. A comparison was obtained as to the relatedness of such prior work to the work to be performed in Sandy Springs.

The firms awarded contracts and task orders proposed staffing levels in line with the current levels provided by CH2M HILL. During the interview process with the firms, each company was asked if they felt that their proposed staffing levels would be sufficient to meet the workload in Sandy Springs. Without exception, they replied that their approach would result in an equal or higher level of service for the city and our residents.

In addition, each firm made a commitment to retain incumbent contracted staff in order to ensure continuity of operations. The city has every confidence that any loss of knowledge will be minimal.

 

What happens to the city contract employees? What percentage of the faces in City Hall do you expect to change?

Each of the firms awarded contracts and task orders affirmed their intent to maintain a significant share of the incumbent workforce. Transitions of this nature are common among firms holding federal contracts, and the Collaborative, Jacobs and URS have extensive experience transitioning staff from one contractor to their own payroll in limited time periods. Our expectation is that significant number of the incumbent staff will remain in their contract positions with the city. Of course, each contract employee must make their own decision as to whether or not to remain with the city.

 

How does moving from a single contractor to the new multi-contractor arrangement change your job?

Fundamentally, there is no change to my responsibilities and ability to effectively manage as we move from a single contractor to multiple contractors.

 

Where does the $7 million in savings go? Is it being reallocated for other city services or can taxes be cut?

A significant portion will help the City offset the reduction in revenues due to economic conditions. For Fiscal Year 2012, the proposed budget includes a significant allocation to capital improvements that is possible due in part to the savings realized through the competitive process.

 

If the new bidders save the city $7 million, does that mean the city has been paying too much in recent years?

After five years under the “public-private partnership” model, the city was able to develop a more detailed scope of work that reduced the risk for potential bidders. Combined with clearly defined workload indicators, reduced risk and interest expressed by private industry resulted in the achievement of significant savings for the city.