Claremore Daily Progress

October 10, 2012

Helm splits $55,300 job, avoids statutory bidding

CanServ installs system on same day, but purchase orders show differently

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Purchase order issues continue to surface for Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm as $55,300 in purchases from CanServ LLC of Tulsa were made without following proper bid procedures.

To complicate matters some of the purchase orders were not encumbered prior to the receipt of the product which is required by state statute.
Scrutiny centers on purchase orders for the installation of a Lincoln Lube system that self-lubricates moving parts on a variety of construction equipment.
Work was done multiple times by a single vendor during the same month and even during the same day. 
However, the vendor’s quote was split into separate purchase orders. Helm received a single quote with an itemized list prior to the completion of the work and had advance knowledge that the project would exceed the $10,000 limit. When questioned Helm said that it was broken down for each piece of equipment.
“It is a project they can’t do them all at the same time,” Helm said. “We call them and have them do them when the equipment is ready.”
Helm also added that they are provided with a quote when the company comes to the barn to the do the work.
CanServ employee Ty Richardson quoted prices for a Lincoln Lube system for six different pieces of equipment on March 9, 2012, according to Helm’s email. 
The document received by the Claremore Progress by Open Records request details the cost and options for each piece of equipment, including different pricing options depending on work that would be done during installation.
The vendor records for the CanServ job have been provided to Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley by the Claremore Daily Progress.
For example, a John Deere 872 motor grader with braded lines and fittings would be $10,300 for installation.
Each item was presented in the same manner and six items were included in the quote.
The total expected price, according to the quote was approximately $55,300, depending on additional hose or braided line that would be needed at the time of installation.
Statutes require all purchases that exceed $10,000 to be competitive bid. In this case Helm did not put out the installation for competitive bid, despite CanServ’s quote of $55,300.
Each installation was completed and listed on a separate invoice, even though the work was included in a single quote for the same system.
Title 19 of the state statute states that “splitting purchases for the purpose of avoiding competitive bidding and paying an amount in excess of [$10,000] is prohibited. Any persons convicted of violating this provision will be guilty of a misdemeanor and will forfeit their position or office.”
Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones interprets the bid limit mentioned above, to mean that the expenditure of more than the bid limit within a year (not necessarily a fiscal year) for the same item, service, system, etc. would be a violation of this provision and would constitute splitting purchase orders under most circumstances.
Helm said when asked about following bidding procedures. “I can not explain why there was a shortfall. I wait until they give me a quote.”
CanServ sent representatives out on multiple dates to complete the work.
The first installation was completed on April 5, 2012 and purchase order 207229 for $9,800.
Two other installations were completed during the month of April 2012, according to purchase order 207848 for $7,800 and purchase order 207747 for $9,800.
These two systems were installed on April 13 for a total cost of $17,600.
The work orders provided by CanServ to the Claremore Progress show details of the transaction, including a change to the invoice number.
It appears the invoice number was changed to reflect two separate invoices, despite the work being done on the same day.
Additionally, Helm’s department filed the purchase orders almost a week apart with the receiving reports reflecting different dates, yet both items were completed on the same day. 
Two more purchase orders were submitted for payment in May and June, however both of the systems were installed in May.
Purchase order 209090 for $9,500 is dated June 6, yet the work was completed on May 21. Purchase order 208258 for $9,800 was completed on May 3.
Instead of filing one invoice for the work totally $19,300 the work was filed in two separate months.
The final installation submitted for payment was purchase order 301264 for $9,500. It was submitted on Aug. 13.
Helm said that the systems were installed as part of a maintenance and safety issue.