State seeks bidders for toilet paper contract
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State officials will re-bid a statewide toilet paper contract after one company raised a stink over the contract going to a higher bidder.
The contract, which received bids ranging from $458,000 to $1.5 million, is to supply agencies across the state with toilet paper, dispensers and other sanitary paper products.
The state Division of Purchasing awarded the contract on Aug. 7 to Liberty Distributors of Tridelphia, the incumbent contract holder.
A week later, JanPak filed a protest letter arguing the state skipped over it and wasted $95,000.
JanPak, based in North Carolina, has an office in Huntington.
"After careful evaluation based on competitive pricing we see that the results clearly identify JanPak as the low cost provider of items specified on your bid," JanPak vice president Keith Jones wrote to purchasing director David Tincher.
"Therefore we would like to file an official protest of this award based upon JanPak saving the State of WV close to $95,000 on the exact same items, and brands awarded."
The state spent two weeks reviewing the contract before concluding it had made an error.
"Your protest triggered an intensive review of the specifications, cost sheet and award criteria," assistant purchasing director W. Michael Sheets wrote to Jones on Aug. 31.
The review found the division's cost sheet did not allow for a fair comparison among bidders and that its specifications were flawed.
"Based on the above, there was not an equitable way to evaluate and award the contract; therefore, the contract has been cancelled as of September 30, 2012," Sheets wrote. "This contract will be re-bid with revised specifications in the near future."
According to a bid file, the state is more interested in 1-ply than 2-ply toilet paper:
The state estimated it would need 10,000 rolls of 1-ply toilet paper but only 8,500 rolls of 2-ply.
The order also calls for thousands of other rolls of paper towels and other tissues.
Diane Holley-Brown, Division of Purchasing spokeswoman, said the number of protests each year is "very small."
"Last fiscal year (2012), the Purchasing Division received 25 protests, for a percentage of 1.86% of the 1,341 new purchase order issued," she said in an email. "However, having the safeguard in place for the vendor to be able to protest is important in ensuring the integrity of the state procurement process."