*NEWS*SHARP : SUES STATE OVER BID PROCESS

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*NEWS*SHARP : SUES STATE OVER BID PROCESS

 user 2006-02-20 at 10:12:00 am Views: 70
  • #14046

    Sharp sues state over bid process
    Company wasn’t picked to supply office equipment
    OLYMPIA – Electronics giant Sharp Corp. has filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court alleging the state unfairly awarded a bid to supply office equipment to state agencies.
    The lawsuit names the state Department of General Administration as a defendant.
    In October, Sharp claims it bid on the estimated $20 million to $30 million annual contract to supply office equipment, including copiers; machines that copy, scan and print; and fax machines.
    Later, the company alleged that the scoring of its proposal was “administered in an arbitrary and capricious manner,” saying a passing score was given only to those proposals that went above and beyond what the request for proposal stated.
    “If Sharp had known that it was expected to offer services beyond what was required, it could have done so. But it did not know this,” the company said in its lawsuit.
    The company added: “Sharp was given a failing score even though its proposal was fully responsive to the RFP’s requirements.”
    IKON Office Solutions of Malvern, Pa., was selected as the winning bidder, while bids submitted by Konica/Minolta, Panasonic, Ricoh and Xerox also were rejected, according to the lawsuit.
    Sharp’s Seattle attorney, Karl Oles, said the company seeks an injunction to prevent the state from signing a contract with IKON.
    IKON is pleased to be chosen, spokeswoman Wendy Pinckney wrote in an e-mail to The Olympian.
    “IKON has been a business partner of the state for well over a decade, and we look forward to serving as its sole-source provider of document management solutions, including multifunction copiers, fax machines and related services and supplies,” she said. “We are confident in the quality of our proposal and anticipate a timely and successful resolution of the pending matter.”
    Sharp Electronics Corp. of New Jersey has 22 locations in the state that offer Sharp products, including Capital Business Machines of Olympia, according to co-owner Dean Hartman.
    IKON has offices in Bellingham, Bellevue, Lacey and Seattle, according to its Web site.
    Hartman said Sharp has had part of the state office equipment contract since 1992, which has meant “millions” for his business. Though the contract has yet to be officially awarded, Hartman said he has had to lay off one staff member. He said more staff cuts could follow.
    A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s office said the bid that was awarded is an attempt to cut costs.
    “We believe this contract would save the state lots of money,” said Kristin Alexander.
    The state projects savings of $6 million in the office equipment contract for this biennium, according to state Department of General Administration spokesman Steve Valandra.
    Valandra said awarding the apparent bid to IKON is part of a larger strategy to cut costs through a program the state started last year called “Smart Buying.”
    Instead of awarding a bid based on cost alone, Valandra said other factors will be taken into consideration to cut into the $4 billion the state spends annually on goods and services.
    “Quality of service gets factored in as part of the criteria of evaluating bids,” he said as an example.
    The state has targeted $50 million in savings this biennium as a result of the “Smart Buying” program, Valandra said.
    A hearing on Sharp’s lawsuit is scheduled for Feb. 17 at Thurston County Superior Court.
    If the judge rules against Sharp, the company then has to decide whether to appeal the ruling, Oles said.