ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County purchased more than one million dollars in protective masks without first putting out a request for bids.
Our findings surprised even St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
“I assume they are bidding those but I’m not involved in procurement,” he said.
The procurement department responded to requests for information from Fox 2 reporting payments totaling $1,250,105 to three companies for protective masks:
- Natural Tableware North America
- K&K Supply
- RBO Print Logistix (A contract on which Fox 2 previously reported on earlier this month)
Page said he was surprised when we asked him during last week’s daily briefing about the lack of bidding.
“In an emergency, we try to do it quickly, we try and do it responsibly. But to be honest with you, I’m not down into the details of purchasing or contracts,” Page said.
A St. Louis County procurement director told Fox 2 the masks “were procured under Chapter 107.170 (unforeseen requirements) and so they were not bid.”
Fox 2 reached out to contractors who explained it’s still possible to bid in an emergency. The contractors added that Interested bidders can get text or email alerts and respond almost immediately to say why they think they can offer the lowest and best price.
“When we get farther out from the emergency, I think we’ll get more deliberative in those purchases, but right now I think everyone in our community can agree when it comes to tests, when it comes to masks, we’ll get the best deal we can and try to move forward,” Page said.
While we found St. Louis County did not put the $1.25 million in mask purchases out for bid, we have not found at this time any problems with those masks. Mask quality has been an issue that other agencies have had as they’ve had to return inferior and unacceptable products to China. We’ll continue tracking that here.