Bad public policy
The Anchorage Assembly, apparently in the interest of speed, has approved a $100,000, sole-source contract for a study on how the city would build a waste-to-energy incineration plant.
The money would come from the Solid Waste Services budget and the study would be completed within 90 days, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
The study does not commit the city to build the up to $400 million plant, which would take years to build.
Lest we sound like worrywarts, we get it that the Eagle River landfill has about 42 years of operation left and that an incineration plant could increase that nearly three-fold. And we understand that burning garbage and solid waste sludge could produce electricity.
What we do not get is a $100,000 sole-source contract for the work.
We are not alone apparently. While the Assembly approved the study Nov. 19, the ADN reports, members Tuesday questioned giving the sole-source contract to StreamlineAM LLC. They wondered, as they should, why that contract instead of the city’s standard bidding process.
Anchorage Solid Waste Services Manager Mark Spafford says Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wanted the study quickly and StreamlineAM was the best company for that, the ADN reports.
Sole-source contracts for anything other than absolute emergencies are anathema to good government and generally are restricted to smaller amounts of money. Bidding processes, after all, are in place for good reasons. They save taxpayers money and they ensure government and its friends in the private sector play fair in a transparent system.
Large, sole-source government contracts inarguably are bad public policy. The Assembly should move to put the contract out for bids.