Skamania County's Central Services Department is the county government's electronic nerve system. This electronic data processing (EDP) network includes county documents, telephone, email and Internet access. Its importance is huge. Until recent years, it has been managed by personnel who are part of our local community. This seems to be changing.
Skamania County's Board of Commissioners signed contracts, dated July 1, 2009, and Jan. 25, 2010, with an outside vendor for services pertaining to the county's EDP. Again in December 2012, they signed with Richardson Group IT, Inc., of Portland. Curiously, the vendor's owner, Rod Richardson, is the son of County Commissioner Jim Richardson.
Washington law (RCW 39.04.270) seems unequivocal in that EDP contracts must be offered in a competitive bidding process because of their importance to the public. However, the previous contracts were offered as small "public works" projects, exempt from competitive bidding.
If Skamania County's "lame duck" commissioners are considering replacing existing Central Services personnel (two employees will be laid off) with a contractor, they would do well to heed the state law that protects its citizens by mandating competitive bidding for EDP contracts. Let us ensure they wake up and smell the coffee on this one. Even better? Let the newly elected commissioners make this important decision.
Ole Helgerson and John Hubner