Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Auditor Praises State Bar, but Urges Some Changes
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar of California generally follows approved contracting practices, but could make improvements, State Auditor Elaine M. Howle said in a report made public yesterday.
A review of 60 out of 1,084 contracts that the State Bar said it entered into during the years 2010 through 2012 showed that “the State Bar is complying with the contracting requirements of the State Bar Act,” the auditor said.
Howle explained that the act requires the Board of Governors to adopt a rule setting forth contracting procedures that meet the standards—“not necessarily the specific requirements,” the auditor noted—of the Public Contract Code, such as solicitation of multiple bids, public inspection of bids, use of an evaluation committee and written procedures for deciding protests, and detailed performance criteria.
The auditor noted that many of the contracts reviewed were exempt from competitive or informal bidding processes, including contracts for goods or services as to which the executive director has determined there was only one source that could meet the State Bar’s needs, contracts for event sites, employment agreements of six months or less designed to fill an immediate need, or agreements for goods or services recommended by a broker who holds a competitively bid contract.
Those exemptions were appropriate, Howle said.
The State Bar could, however, “do more to follow best practices and ensure the best value in its contracting activities,” Howle said.
The auditor recommended that the State Bar require its contract managers “to document their efforts to determine that the costs for exempt contracts are reasonable,” and “perform and document a post-contract evaluation of consulting contracts with a value greater than $5,000.”
In response, State Bar Executive Director Joseph Dunn said the organization agrees with the auditor and is taking steps to put her recommendations into practice. Specifically, Dunn explained, the State Bar has “undertaken steps to train staff and begin immediate implementation” of both recommendations, and expects to fully implement them “before the end of the third quarter of 2013.”
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