Monday, October 5, 2015

Who Composed That RFP?

With so much concern being expressed about the proposed outsourcing of the Planning Division, I just took another look at the request for proposals that was posted on the city web site on Sept. 10. Under the very long list of duties to be accomplished is this paragraph:

Our public sector experience exposes our Planners to a broad range of "Best Practices" in the area of land use regulation and community development. Consequently, we have a healthy respect for, and understanding of the issues faced by applicants, municipalities and their land use broads when processing and hearing land use applications. Additionally, our Planners bring a fresh perspective and knowledge of policy and decision-making to our municipal clients. We have expertise in providing the kind of leadership needed to successfully provide informed guidance and advice to management, appointed and elected officials. 

This looks more like a pitch from an applicant than a request from a municipality. "Our municipal clients" - whose voice is that?

This made me wonder how the list of duties was formulated, and by whom.

Looking further, I saw that the RFP was changed to refer to "the respondent" and the current version on the city web site reflects what was printed in the Courier News on Sept. 11.

The respondent shall have public sector experience that exposes their professional Planners to a broad range of "Best Practices" in the area of land use regulation and community development. Consequently, respondent shall poses a healthy respect for, and understanding of the issues faced by applicants, municipalities and their land use boards when processing and hearing land use applications. Additionally, Planners should bring a fresh perspective and knowledge of policy and decision‐making to the municipality. Respondent must demonstrate appropriate leadership qualities needed to successfully provide informed guidance and advice to management, appointed elected officials, and appropriately respond to residents’ inquiries, concerns or clarification on their specific concerns.

Somewhat curious, no? Compare the full Sept. 10 version with the full Sept. 11 version.

As for tonight's meeting, the public can witness the council's discussion of outsourcing the Planning Division, but there is nothing on the agenda regarding action to outsource. Bids were opened only on Thursday. However, a resolution could be offered as new business next week or at the Nov. 9 combined meeting (agenda-fixing plus regular meeting).



  1. Applicant's voice? Maybe, but less nefariously it sounds like someone glommed it from a consultant's website because it sounded good. That's how an awful lot of corporate and government stuff gets written. The troubling part is that they didn't bother, or didn't know how, to clean it up.

  2. With all the challenges that face us as a city why would we want to eliminate a department that works well, serves it's residents well, creates revenue, and has the best interest of the residents as it guides the growth of the City.

    Can those that advocate for this say the same?
    Do they have the experience to make such determinations?
    Are their recommendations self serving?
    And are we being fooled to thing that there could possibly be any savings?

    And the bigger question - will those that advocate for this even be here in 2 years when we all are stuck cleaning up their mess. They are the paid employees, we the residents, and the officials we elect on the Council should reject this BAD IDEA from them.

    COUNCIL: Reject this. . .
    MAYOR: withdraw this. . .

    Jim Spear

  3. It would be a travesty to outsource this department. The citizens of Plainfield deserve the personal process that has been provided by this Department as well as all the others. We need to know, which is provided by them, the ins, outs, yes and no requirements of the law. Their knowledge, patience and personal touch cannot be provided by a vendor. The citizens of Plainfield require this. They take the extra step.

  4. Sammy the SmokehoundOctober 5, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    This is a back room deal and it has John Stewart and Adrian Mapp written all over it with a money trail to follow.

    I supported and voted for Adrian Mapp and thought him to be a person who would do the right thing -- so far his done the wrong thing one too many times.

    It's time to start finding another candidate for the next election -- No, not a Campbell or another resurrection of SRB -- someone who does not need favors, is not part of the patronage job mill game and someone who will listen to all of the people, not be coaxed by the likes of a John Stewart who is a bigger player than anyone knows.

  5. Once again Title.47 Public Revords Retention Law needs to be looked at. If the public can not readily access records, the City could face fines.

  6. This paragraph, which has no place in the Bid Solicitation, seems to conflate the author's philosophical thoughts with the scope of work. Whatever the motive was of the strange mind that inserted it. As to the bids themselves, I am advised that the prices submitted ranged from low $100,000 to approximately $250,00. One is compelled ta ask if the parties who submitted bids are looking at the same job? It is suspected that some, perhaps all, of the bids, contained not only prices but qualifications regarding the scope of the work? Any bid that has anything other than the price for the laundry list of services described in the Bid Solicitation should be deemed non-responsive ant rejected. How can anyone determine the final cost to the City is the price submitted is not all inclusive? It appears we have a bad idea being compounded by an inept Bid process. Bill Kruse

  7. Because other towns do it, does not mean it's a good idea. While it may be true that many other cities outsource their planning functions, that does NOT mean it saves them money or brings good results.

    1. Then why would they continue to keep the outsourced group instead of bringing it back in house?

    2. Anonymous,
      Why would you expect an answer when you can't even bother to sign your name?

    3. Sounds like you don't have an answer.

  8. Bill Neirdstadt VOTED on his council to get rid of the Planning department for the same reasons a cost savings.

  9. What other towns are doing it that are the size and/or population of Plainfield? If this is such a trend then they should take that comparison outside of Union County and tell us what comparable cities to Plainfield (say populations of 40,000 to 75,000) do nationally. Otherwise it is a nonsense statistic that sounds meaningful but in actuality is worthless.

    And that is aside from the fact that this RFP is pointless. These vendors basically gave the city a Management Fee - since there was no data provided on number of applications, number of emails, number of visitors, average length of application review time etc etc etc. this is just a management fee with all other costs being ad-hoc from a menu of services.

    If this is the fully loaded cost with identical service levels then the city should require a detailed savings guarantee that is as air-tight as possible. Then the vendor can just walk away when they realize their $105,000 bid can't turn into $850,000 with change orders.

  10. What happens when it turns out that the cost for outside consultants exceeds the cost of the Planning Division Staff? Since a layoff plan was submitted to the State for approval based on the savings, can the employees affected by the layoff plan turn around and sue the City for retroactive pay and reinstatement to their positions.

    Just Asking

  11. It will happen and the taxpayers will be the ones paying the high price in our tax bills.

  12. Glad you picked up on that paragraph in the "RFP" as published--that caught my eye also--obviously that language is from a bid, not a "Request For Proposals." The question is where did it come from? Have bids already been submitted? And if so why have we not been told? This kind of thing is not "transparency" and may indeed indicate some shenanigans that should be looked into..