*NEWS*SUPPLY COMPANY SUES STATE OVER DEAL

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*NEWS*SUPPLY COMPANY SUES STATE OVER DEAL

 user 2006-04-24 at 10:13:00 am Views: 65
  • #15168

    Supply company sues state over deal
    CHARLOTTE, N.C. | A lawsuit challenging the state’s six-year contract for providing staplers, ink cartridges and paper clips contends North Carolina decided to overpay for office supplies by as much as $10.8 million.
    Lawyers for Broomfield, Colo.-based Corporate Express said the consulting firm North Carolina hired to guide the state on the contract had done millions of dollars worth of business for winning bidder Office Depot in recent years.
    Corporate Express said in the challenge scheduled to be heard by an administrative law judge in Raleigh on Tuesday that state contracting officials rejected its bid for the business, which it said was the lowest, in favor of an $18.2 million-a-year contract with Delray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot.
    “Corporate Express was surprised and disappointed when the entire state government office supplies contract went to a higher priced supplier,” Hampton Dellinger, a lawyer representing Corporate Express, said Friday.
    State officials said in court filings in the case filed in January that their selection process got North Carolina the best deal, not the lowest price. Lawyers for the state and Office Depot said the bid process followed the law.
    The state “has never awarded a state contract based on price alone,” state purchasing officer Mike Mangum said in one deposition.
    Lawyers for the state also said it was N.C. officials and not Accenture, the consulting firm that helped the state structure the selection process and solicit bids, who decided who got the contract.
    Accenture has a long business relationship with Office Depot. Since 2003, Office Depot has paid $30 million to Accenture for projects to help the company manage inventory and overhaul its merchandising system.
    Accenture didn’t disclose that Office Depot is one of its clients, a potential conflict of interest.
    Jim Bard, an Accenture official, said in a deposition that he wasn’t aware of his company’s ties to Office Depot when he helped the state with the office supplies bid.
    He knew Accenture had a relationship with Staples, another bidder, but didn’t tell state officials.
    Corporate Express argues that it should have received additional points in the state’s evaluation for guaranteeing next-day delivery anywhere in the state.
    Office Depot guaranteed two-day delivery.