EDITOR’S NOTE: Pages 10-11 are the section on Emergency Purchases. The Comptroller’s office cited the District for not providing specific and adequate guidance on purchasing services in case of emergency, purchases which totaled more than $90,000. In particular, the Comptroller questioned two non-competitive contracts for HVAC repairs for $14,216 where the only indication that the repairs were “emergency” purchases was the word “emergency” hand written across the vendor invoice. The Comptroller called the invoices “questionable” and asked why the District did not bother to even make a few phone calls to “obtain comparative prices.”
Emergency purchases arise out of an accident or unforeseen occurrence or condition. The circumstances justifying an emergency purchase must affect public buildings, public property or the life, health or safety of the community and must require an immediate action which cannot await competitive bidding. The determination of whether an emergency exists is a question of fact determined on a case-by-case basis. A written determination of the basis for the emergency and for the selection of a particular vendor must be kept on file. The District’s current policy states that in the event of an accident, emergency or unforeseen occurrence the requirement to obtain comparative prices prior to purchases may be suspended. The policy does not provide specific and adequate guidance on the steps to be followed when procuring goods or services in case of an emergency requiring immediate action.
During our review of 22 payments in the amount of $90,504 we found that two payments for repair of heating and air conditioning equipment totaling $14,216 had the word ‘emergency” hand written across the vendor invoice. The claims did not include a description or other indication of an emergency. The District’s purchasing policy would have otherwise required obtaining quotes for these purchases. Without proper documentation, it is questionable if these purchases were actually for emergencies. and that the need was so immediate, that it would not be in the District’s interest to even make several phone calls to obtain comparative prices.
1. The Board should award contracts to professional service
providers only after soliciting competitive proposals.
2. The District’s purchasing policies should defi ne the process for
determining sole source vendors.
3. The District’s purchasing policy should defi ne an emergency
situation and identify a District offi cial responsible to declare
a situation an emergency. Suffi cient documentation should be
maintained to justify emergency purchases.
1 2 OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE COMPTROLLER
4. District officials should closely monitor the purchasing process to
ensure that purchases are made in accordance with policies and