In the Buffalo News piece, a "state official" with a rather distinctive pattern of verbal tics defends the Buffalo Billion bidding process, saying nothing untoward was done, the bidding process was simply set-up for maximum "flexibility" and "speed", there was plenty of state oversight and really, there's nothing to see here.
Harris saw it otherwise. He wrote:
I didn't want to bore the pants off your readers by leaving this sort of comment but a couple things immediately come to mind. Remember, I was Deputy State Comptroller for Administration from January 2003 to July 2007--I was responsible for many of the large procurements done during that period for the State Comptroller's own large IT and facility-related procurements, which needed to comply with State Law and the Comptroller's own procurement-related regulations.
1. There is ALWAYS a trade-off between "flexibility" and "speed" and cost. The more "flexibility" and "speed" you build into an RFP the more expensive the procurement is likely to be because you immediately eliminate entire groups of bidders, and, almost by definition, the more bidders you have the more likely it is that the competitive process will drive costs down.
2. There is no automatic relationship between limiting the geographic scope of an approved bidders list to getting "projects" up and running. I'd guess that there are many potential bidders from, say, Rochester or Syracuse or, God forbid, New York City and Albany, who would be able to get projects done in the City of Buffalo.
3. That the "project ideas were evolving and Albany officials did not yet have precise information about what companies would locate in Buffalo or when" is an indictment of--not a defense for--the process. When you move so fast that you have no idea what you are really procuring why would you expect possible bidders to read your very unmade-up mind? Why wouldn't you wait another two or three months to figure out what you want so you can ask for it clearly? Would Buffalo have fallen into Lake Erie if the RFP hadn't been released just when it was in some generic, unhelpful format? Probably not but Cuomo's fundraising in Buffalo might well have.
4. "There were several levels of approval or oversight from Cuomo’s budget division and economic development agency, the official said." And, conveniently, each of these agencies report to Cuomo's office and any agency that is writing or reviewing an RFP will know exactly what the boss really wants.
5. Companies around the state that do business with government pay people to read the Contract Reporter regularly. They probably don't pay people to read the crosswords page of the Buffalo News.
6. The State Comptroller's Office is required to review all state procurements before they can be set up for approval and payment. Has the State Comptroller's Office approved the procurement? With all these questions popping is the State Comptroller's Office auditing the procurement process? I didn't have time to check but since Cuomo and DiNapoli hate each other you'd think that DiNapoli might be inclined to take a look at the entire thing.
Someone, maybe not Cuomo, will go down around all this.