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Procurement Challenges

Moderator: Larry, I’d like you to comment on procurement because it seemed that so much material was made available so quickly and what happened after that?

Larry Knafo: Procurement was a major challenge for us. When we were building Pier 92 and 94, we did something like thirty-two million dollars of purchasing within the first two days. We were flying Cisco equipment in from California to build networks. Motorola was flying radios in from Florida. We were building computer systems; we were building facilities; we had people going to Pottery Barn and saying, "I need all the couches that you have" because we wanted to make family rooms in the Family Assistance Center. Anything you could think of, we bought. There was no structured way to do this, so we had a lot of IOUs and we had people saying that "I represent the city, I’m authorized to take this from you, we will pay you later." And it’s sad but there are still vendors today that are trying to get paid for things that people just don’t know whether or not were ever provided. And that is a huge problem.

One of the things that we have done in the city is put a contract in place where we have one vendor that we can turn to in the time of emergency that will do purchasing for us and manage all of the purchasing. They’ll be responsible for implementing an inventory system to control how this arrives and whom it gets assigned to.