Purchases show disregard for taxpayer money | NevadaAppeal.com

Purchases show disregard for taxpayer money

There’s a reason that government agencies are required to put major purchases up for bid – to ensure taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.

That’s why taxpayers ought to be very concerned about the Nevada Department of Transportation’s flippant disregard for the process in buying 27 new road graders, for a total of $3.6 million.

Rather that putting the orders out for bid, they used something called a Permissive Price Agreement to award the contract.

Trouble was, the equipment was available for $25,000 less each from another company. Doesn’t sound to us like the department is looking out for taxpayers’ money.

Permissive Price Agreements are supposed to be for small purchases, such as ink cartridges and parts. How anyone thought a road grader could fit into that category is beyond us.

It also raises serious questions about just why the contract was awarded at a greater cost. If there are logical reasons, such as lower maintenance costs or longer life, that’s perhaps defensible. But without that information, a taxpayer is open to other conclusions.

Remember the classic cases of government waste, the $600 toilet seats and the $500 hammers purchased by the military in the 1980s? Apparently, the lessons learned didn’t have much staying power.

Unfortunately, there’s little that can be done to recoup the hundreds of thousands of dollars extra that was paid for the graders. The state Supreme Court could decide that the purchases should be rescinded and awarded to the lower bidder. But that would penalize the company that sold the graders. It did nothing wrong.

What we demand is that NDOT show greater respect for tax dollars in the future, and that there be a clear description of what constitutes a “small purchase” under the Permissive Price Agreement, one that doesn’t rely on common sense.

It doesn’t seem like there’s much of that in the office that purchased the road graders.