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Agencies cry foul after CUI recommended for contract

October 23, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

Three welfare-to-work program agencies are crying foul after the county Workforce Investment Board recommended a proposal for services be awarded to Campesinos Unidos Inc. The proposal award is for $248,919 worth of welfare-to-work services.

The three agencies, Imperial County Office of Education, Imperial County Work Training Center and the Imperial Valley Institute of Technology, said there was an apparent conflict of interest in the evaluation process.

At a county Board of Supervisors committee meeting Monday, agency representatives said one of the WIB employees, Connie Jones, stood to gain financially if Campesinos received the award. Campesinos proposed to hire Jones, who was present during proposal evaluation committee meetings, Work Training Center Director Angela Silva said.

"I would not have set it up that way or allowed that individual (to be there)," county Office of Employment Training Director Sam Couchman said.


Couchman oversees the WIB for the county on contract matters. He was not present during the evaluation committee meeting.

"At the time, I did not view it as a substantial conflict of interest," Couchman said. "The WIB committee only makes recommendations to the full board."

The request for proposal was for job-coaching services that the board is giving up, WIB acting Director Ken Phillips said. Jones has run this program for the WIB for the past several years, he said.

Phillips was not present during the evaluation committee meeting, but said Jones' presence was requested because of her experience with the program. He said WIB staff does not evaluate proposals.

Another problem with the evaluation process was inconsistency, Office of Education's Academic & Employment Services Director Peter Ramirez said.

Ramirez said he lost a few pages of an appendix from his original request for proposal and called Phillips to get another copy. The text of the second copy was different from the text of the first, he said.

"I have no idea what he is referring to. This is the first time I heard of that," Phillips said, referring to the different copies.

Phillips said a document does not change after it is released for bid. He said the WIB sends out technical assistance notices during the bid response period. Explanations and examples are given in the technical assistance documents that are not in the original proposal requests.

The three agencies appealed the WIB award decision but the WIB rejected the appeal earlier this month. The WIB's award recommendation goes before the county Board of Supervisors today.

Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

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