When Low Bids Fail: Incumbent Awarded Do-Over Contract

Yesterday, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a short term contract with former incumbent vendor Behavioral Interventions Inc. to provide electronic home monitoring services for the state Department of Juvenile Services. The emergency agreement comes after the Board terminated the contract which was originally awarded to Sentinel Offender Services, the lowest bidder at the time, who failed to perform.

Sentinel’s bid originally came in 40 percent lower than Behavioral Interventions’. Comptroller Franchot questioned the extremely low bid when it came in last April. Upon executing the contract with Sentinel six months ago, Sentinel rolled out untested, new technology, testified Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Sam Abed – in what Governor Larry Hogan referred to as “kind of a bait and switch.” The state cancelled the contract only 17 days later. Secretary Abed described the situation as “fairly unique.” The Daily Record reports that Comptroller Franchot praised the Secretary for “taking quick action and accepting responsibility for it;” stated Abed:

It’s a tough situation because we do want to save money and get low bids and we certainly want to look into those. In some cases they work. In this case, it did not. In terms of moving forward, I think we want to put a little more scrutiny on those providers and try to balance that with trying to encourage smaller businesses to come in and compete. I think it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for us, but we have had. some success by stimulating competition and getting more bids.

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