It’s only the latest in a string of bribery and corruption cases related to construction bidding, but this week’s indictment of State Rep. Terri Hodge (D-Dallas) and others should be a clarion call to reform the way governments hand out contracts. The case is complicated, but boils down to allegations of bribes associated with a developer building low-income housing.
From school board members to county commissioners, a disturbing trend has been revealed of the corrupting nature of the current contracting system. These stories of graft and corruption have shattered public confidence in local governments.
In reporting on the Dallas story this week, the Dallas Morning News headline said it all: A Sad Day For Dallas.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Texas needs bidding and procurement reform, if nothing else to save local elected officials from themselves and their vendors. More importantly, Texas needs bidding and procurement reform to give the public trust in the spending process.
The days of using the lowest qualified bidder to perform government work are long gone in Texas. Nowadays, “intangible factors” are considered with the goal of determining who will provide the ‘best value3’ to taxpayers. Nice goal, but it instead creates a system fraught with corruption and open to abuse.
Taxpayers are rightly demanding that their money be spent responsibly. We can start by scrapping the current procurement system and telling governmental entities to use the lowest-qualified-bid.
Until then, we’ll continue to see elected officials ushered into rather expensive government housing, wearing bright orange jumpsuits. And no one is well-served by that.