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Discrepancy found among evaluations of solo bid for $15 million AGO contract

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(The Center Square) – Last year, the Washington Attorney General’s Office, or AGO, requested quotes for a university to develop a public police use of force database per SB 5259. The eventual winner was Washington State University, or WSU, the only higher education institution to do so and the only instance in a decade where an AGO RFP has received just one bidder.

A potential vendor has accused the AGO of playing favorites with WSU, a client of the AGO’s, before and after the RFP process, including sharing confidential information about its release and time to submit the proposal. As of last week, WSU is currently looking into ethical complaints the vendor has filed against two of its employees.

Documents obtained by The Center Square show that after the bid was put in, it received evaluation scores from AGO employees and members of an advisory group that developed recommendations for the project.

According to the evaluations, the three AGO employees gave the RFP an overall score of 91%, while the three advisory group members gave it a 60%. The evaluations concerned aspects of the RFP, including whether the program manager was qualified for the role, whether the team had sufficient experience conducting various technical work necessary to develop the database, and how to use the website to manage public expectations.

The lowest score came from advisory group member Dr. Martina Morris, a retired University of Washington professor who gave an overall score of 50% – she scored a 0 three times regarding a specific aspect of the RFP proposal. According to the evaluation score matrix, a 0 means the “response is incomplete and serious shortfalls in capability exist. Clearly does not meet the standards or the requirements set forth are not addressed. Evaluator has critical concerns with this response.”

The highest score came from AGO Violent Crime Information Analyst Nicole Silver, who gave it a 97%. AGO Policy Director Sahar Fathi gave it an 88%.

The only aspect of the RFP proposal that received no perfect score from any evaluator concerned the RFP stipulation that “reportable use of force incidents will be reported within 24 hours of the incident. Once a month, following a schedule developed by the Contractor, a supervisor in each law enforcement agency must validate their agency’s reported data. This cycle is expected to repeat each month. Provide a clear and specific timeline that includes all agency contact and data routines required to manage this monthly reporting cycle. At a minimum, the timeline must include at least the use of force report, data cleaning, validation, analysis, display, and reporting.”

According to RFP 360, different scores for an RFP evaluation is normal.

However, the company also notes to “watch for any major discrepancies in evaluator scores. These differences may indicate a question that was unclear or misunderstood by the vendor or evaluator.”

According to WSU’s proposal obtained by The Center Square, various aspects of the RFP go unmentioned, including the role of the state Office of Independent Investigation, or OII.

According to the RFP, “collaboration with the Office of Independent Investigations (“OII”) is specifically listed throughout the scope of work as the OII, through RCW 43.102.100, is required to conduct analysis of use of force data. This collaboration is encouraged in order for the Contractor to be able to assist OII to reduce and coordinate use of force reporting within law enforcement agencies and these external agencies that require use of force data.”

Also unmentioned in WSU’s proposal is a feasibility analysis for a database pilot program that would collect and store public recordings of police use of force incidents. The study was included in the advisory group’s recommendations, though AGO attorneys warned in internal emails that the concept was fraught with legal issues. After the feasibility analysis is completed, the AGO would have final say on whether to proceed with the pilot program.

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