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Responses From Department of General Services

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Department of General Services officials still refuse to go on camera to answer NewsChannel 5's questions. Here are some of the written responses that we received:

Who selected the three-person RFP evaluation committee for selection of a facility manager for state buildings? Who made the decision to put two members of the governor's staff -- Mark Cate and Larry Martin -- on that committee?

"The Central Procurement Office selected the panel members and made the decision to have a three person panel.  Current state law requires a minimum of three (3) state employees to serve on an evaluation panel.  Mark Cate was selected due to his background in real estate and facilities management.  Mr. Cate also serves as the governor's staff representative to the State Building Commission.  Larry Martin was selected due to his extensive banking and public policy experience, having served as deputy mayor of the City of Knoxville and his work on the TEAM Act.  Mike Perry was selected because he was the Deputy Chief Procurement Officer and because he has 35 years of procurement experience. "

EDITOR'S NOTE: The first time that the Department attempted a facilities management contract, the selection committee was composed of five career state employees with experience managing state buildings.

Why did the Department of General Services not go through a competitive process in selecting a company to handle lease negotiations?  

"The State did go through a competitive process in selecting a company to handle lease negotiations.  The original RFP for Facility Assessments, Master Planning and Facility Management also included leasing services for the State (Section C.3. of Contract Attachment A).  The leasing services component was bid and evaluated in connection with the original RFP award.  Leasing services were included as authorized services in the Contract dated effective March 9, 2012 (See Contract Attachment B)."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Attachment A included leasing service as part of the master planning process. Attachment B indicated a cost of $0.00, suggesting that leasing was included as part of the $1 million price tag.

Does the Department of General Services believe that there is a conflict between a consultant that recommends a new approach to facility management and then gets a contract to act as the state's facility manager? Did its role as a consultant give it an unfair advantage in the selection process for the facilities management contract?

"No, the Department does not believe there is a conflict of interest nor does the Department believe JLL was given an unfair advantage.  JLL's involvement was a direct result of their qualifications presented in the original procurement, not their role as a consultant.  Additionally, it was the State, not JLL that developed the new approach to comprehensive real estate management.  That new approach was reflected in the State's initial RFP."

EDITOR'S NOTE: JLL was selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) to do a comprehensive study of the state's buildings and for facilities management.  The State Building Commission directed the Department to throw out the facilities management component. Part of Professor Kathleen Clark's concern is that -- because of its role as a consultant studying the state's needs -- Jones Lang Lasalle may have had a competitive advantage over its competitors when the state actually went to select a facilities manager through a second RFP.

Does the Department of General Services believe that JLL has a conflict of interest when it recommends that state buildings be destroyed -- when it stands to benefit financially from either acting as a construction project manager or a leasing agent? 

"No, we do not believe there is a conflict of interest.  JLL is not acting as a construction project manager under the contract.  The leasing services were publicly procured through an open bid process that was approved by the State Building Commission.  Prior to the assessments, the State knew that it owned property with high operating costs, inefficient floor plates and where the cost of deferred maintenance or renovation would exceed the value of the property and knew that we would most likely vacate the property.  Having one party, properly and legally selected, oversee these services really assists the State in handling some difficult issues with properties long neglected."

After the State Building Commission insisted that the big facilities management contract had to be competitively procured, Commissioner Cates flew to Chicago to meet with Motorola officials to discuss the procurement process it had used in selecting JLL as its facilities manager.  Why did he not meet with any companies that had hired JLL's competitors?

"The Department of General Services did ... engage many different public and private groups, including Motorola, when researching industry best practices for comprehensive real estate management."

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