Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday the Office of General Counsel will be engaging bond counsel through a competitive procurement process, making the process more open and transparent than ever before.
This action is in accordance with Executive Order 2015-2 (“Competitive Process for Procurement of Legal Services”), in which all contracts awarded for legal services or legal consultants by OGC or any Department are conducted using competitive bids and the results are made available online.
“This process reforms what was an obscure process into one that is efficient, ethical and transparent in securing legal counsel for bond issuances,” said Gov.Wolf. “This important step advances a key mission in creating government that works and ensures that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
The procurement will be done in two steps. The first step, currently underway, prequalifies a pool of bond counsels through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process, which sets forth the minimum qualifications for inclusion. Interested attorneys and firms filed a Statement of Qualifications with OGC and those statements were evaluated by a committee consisting of representatives from the various commonwealth bond issuing agencies.
Selected firms were pre-qualified to perform bond counsel services work for the commonwealth and granted a standard contract with costs to be negotiated for any work to be done at a later date.
The process has currently created a pool of 20 qualified firms, and a list of the firms can be found on the OGC website.
“The Office of General Counsel remains committed to providing the highest level of legal expertise and support to the Wolf Administration, the Executive branch and staff and the citizens of the commonwealth,” said Denise Smyler, General Counsel. “I am confident that our new system of procurement will deliver high quality and cost effective counsel by establishing qualified pools of firms through a transparent process.”
The second step will begin when a Department or OGC demonstrates need for counsel for a bond issuance. At that point, a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued under Section 518 of the Procurement Code. RFPs will set forth the Statement of Work and any additional qualifications needed for the bond issuance.
RFPs will be posted to both the OGC website and the Department of General Services’ eMarketplace.
Firms from the pre-qualified pool will be advised to submit proposals outlining their staffing needs, work costs and qualifications. Proposals will be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively among a committee comprised of OGC, the respective Department(s) and selected representation from the Administration.
Upon selection, the procurement process and winning firm will be set forth and submitted for the General Counsel’s approval, as required under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. Once approved, costs may be further negotiated with the selected firm and an engagement letter would be issued by OGC.
The new process will be launched with the issuance of the General Obligation bond (GO bond) to be issued this spring by the Department of Treasury, Auditor General’s Office, OGC and the Office of the Governor.This particular bond issuance will be led and administered through the Department of Treasury. The GO bond, expected to be a $1.15 billion bond issuance, will be used to pay off previous debt, fund transportation projects and fund various capital projects.