Government & Politics

Landrieu letting sun shine on city contracting process

Mayor Mitch Landrieu today announced a series of “sweeping reforms” to city contracting designed to bring a new level of cooperation, transparency and equity to the process.

The awarding of these contracts had been an opaque process, frequently criticized by City Council President Arnie Fielkow as well as many civic and good government groups. The changes are aimed primarily at contracts for professional services, such as those offered by lawyers, architects, consultants, that critics say have enabled a system of political patronage to flourish hidden from public scrutiny.

The reforms include:

  • * Establishing a Chief Procurement Officer
  • * Largely removing the mayor from the selection process
  • * Creating a program to expand the pool of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises that can immediately compete for city business
  • * Commissioning a study to determine the gap between the availability of DBE’s and the city’s hiring of such businesses
  • * Requiring disclosures of subcontractors
  • * Requiring that all documents, including evaluations of selection committee, are made public
  • * Institutionalizing the role of the Inspector General in the contracting process

Here are the links to download executive orders two, three, four and five.

Members of the current administration, the City Council and participants in the New Orleans Contracting and DBE Task Force set up by Landrieu’s transition team were present for the announcement, flanking the mayor during the nearly hourlong presentation at Gallier Hall.

Several stepped forward to address specific areas of concern.

Daniel Davillier, chairman of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce reinforced the need for equity in the process of rewarding contracts to disadvantaged and minority businesses.

“We can all get behind transparency if it is accompanied by equity,” he said, echoing a theme of empowerment of local small businesses to scale up to qualify for a larger share of city contracts.

Landrieu said the efforts as designed to “restore faith” of not just the public but also the private sector and anyone else who sends money to the city of New Orleans.

Landrieu also went on to say that the team tasked with this reform effort was “hard on the problem and soft on the people” in addressing the sensitive issue of reform, which in the past had created some racially polarized conversations in council chambers.

Inspector General Edouard Quatrevaux also was present at today’s event, signaling a strong relationship between the mayor’s office and the inspector general.

Landrieu said the involvement of Quatrevaux’s office does not “slow things down; it speeds things up” so that the city can be “on time and on task”

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • Dorian Hastings

    Thanks again for the details, and the public documents!

  • sobieski

    Awesome moves. Love them. Nice going, Mitch, but…

    This needs also to be made an ordinance, maybe even plugged into the charter.

    Because as EO what keeps the next or some later mayor from simply switching the system back???

  • sobieski

    The chief procurement officer: this is a great move. One thing this city must do is have an inventory of all city property from boxes of pencils to buildings and land. Apparently the city does not even have a central storehouse or warehouse for its older, unused or overstocked property or equipment, it simply walks away with whoever chooses to bring it home. IG Cerasoli found this out when he first got in and asked to simply use older city equipment rather than having to go purchase anew.

  • Great article. Really.
    After voting for Obama, I’ve gained a nearly “Clockwork Orange” reaction to liking any elected official. However, Mitch’mo seems to be swinging a solid bat here and in other places that interest me like flood protection. We’ll see how this works with the NOPD.
    Y’all got the comments nailed so I got nothing there but kudoes and aw’dat.
    I would like to say that I think this is a prescient statement of our mayor:
    “But that doesn’t take away the hard fact that people are going to get and some people are not going to get, and so you see this now with the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida wanting to protect their constituents saying, ‘I need the limited resources,'” Landrieu said.
    “The bigger question is: Why do we have limited resources?” he said. “Is this nation really capable of doing big things? We’re seeing once again that there are some catastrophic events that we are not, as a nation, fully prepared (for), or as a private industry.”
    I mean, Nagin couldn’t have thought that one up after an hour in a float tank.
    But this is a great article.
    Thanks youz.