This is why I’m a fan of Senator Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, he continues his fight for government transparency while working towards improving government processes and oversight. Earlier this week, he blasted the High-Speed Rail Commissions Secrecy as they are evaluating five bids for the first stretch of the California High-Speed Rail System.
Five major firms submitted their bids yesterday to build the first 29 miles of track in the Central Valley—this should highlight if the project is on pace to meet its $69 million budget and could actually be completed.
However, according to the San Jose Mercury News, bullet train officials say they will keep the price portion of the bids sealed in separate envelopes, while they analyze the quality of the proposals. That process, already delayed from November, could take another two months and is meant to keep state officials from being biased toward the firms with the cheapest bids.
“This is a major milestone in moving high-speed rail forward and getting underway this summer,” Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said in an emailed statement. “It is the industry standard in design-build projects to open bid prices following initial evaluations as not to skew the process. We are working hard to secure the best possible value for taxpayers.”
DeSaulnier doesn’t agree.
“The process is supposed to be transparent,” said state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, chairman of the Senate’s transportation committee. “Once the bid is in, it’s in the public domain, and the public needs to (be able to see) what the bids look like, especially on a project like this.”
Having worked for a large company that submitted many bids on these types of construction projects, this is not the norm and I have no idea what Mr. Morales is referencing because typically agencies will release everything once its submitted—not one portion followed by the price months later.
And for the record, the process can’t be skewed if the bids are already submitted and made public—that is called keeping the agency honest and the best bid/company will win!
Keep it up Senator; we have your back on this one as you continue to fight the good fight. We applaud you for watching this closely!