The Oakland County Executive Office and the Board of Commissioners worked together to make the county’s professional services contracts more transparent for taxpayers.
A new procurement policy, approved unanimously by commissioners, requires board approval to appropriate funds for professional services contracts in excess of $250,000. In addition, the board must approve professional services contracts in excess of $100,000 that are awarded through a process other than full and open competition, such as a single or sole source process.
“Oakland County has a duty to taxpayers to use county funds wisely, responsibly and transparently,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “Our new procurement policy achieves this by ensuring professional service projects and contracts exceeding threshold amounts are discussed by county officials during the appropriations process in an open and public forum prior to being approved.”
Oakland County Board Chairman David T. Woodward (D-Royal Oak) is pleased by the improved transparency.
“When it comes to spending public dollars, open government and greater public oversight is always better,” Woodward said. “The public demands greater public transparency, and this new policy is a major step in achieving that goal.”
Authorization for professional services contracts may be incorporated into the county’s annual budgeting process as well. The board of commissioners may approve them within the annual General Appropriation Act and Budget Resolution and addendums for identified and budgeted contractual agreements, where the awarded contract amount does not exceed a department’s operating expenses budget control category amount.
For all other requests, a county department, office or agency must initiate a resolution in the Board of Commissioners Finance Committee, which has 30 days to consider it. If no action is taken within that time, the contract shall be deemed authorized.
Professional services for the purposes of the new policy are services rendered by members of a recognized profession or possessing a special skill such as advertising and marketing services, business consulting services, auditing services, environmental services, language services, logistics solutions and services and professional engineering services. Insurance terms that require errors and omissions liability will be utilized to determine whether a contract is a professional services contract.