When he ran for governor in 2010, Lincoln Chafee promised to create a more open and competitive procurement process at the state and municipal level.
He pledged to "update the prices in the state's Master Pricing List and make it accessible to municipalities. This will create a more open and competitive procurement process, resulting in an economy of scale that will benefit taxpayers at both the municipal and state levels."
The Master Pricing List is a list of vendors who have indicated an interest in selling products or services to the state and whose businesses have been vetted by the state Division of Purchases, according to Allison Rogers of the state Department of Administration. Purchasers can use the list to ask for quotes for products or services.
At first glance, the division's website, purchasing.ri.gov, doesn't look very transparent. If you click on the Master Price Agreements tab, it takes you to a screen that seems to ask for information the average taxpayer wouldn't have, such as vendor number or agreement name.
But Rogers showed us that leaving everything blank and simply clicking the "Search" button takes you to the list of all the products and services that the state has bought through agreements with various companies, from actuarial services to window repair.
It's clear that the prices have been updated. You can search for agreements that have taken effect as recently as the past week.
To find out if it's accessible to municipalities, we called David Clemente, Pawtucket's director of purchasing, who said he's used it extensively.
"The price agreements are great because they've gone through an open bidding process and we're getting a fair price for the items that we're buying," he said.
Clemente, who has also done purchasing for the state and in private industry, said the website has improved significantly during the Chafee administration.
"You can imagine the number of contracts in there. Searching was sometimes difficult. They did a major upgrade, so it's much easier now to search by keyword, by vendor or by name to find that contract. All the contracts are available on PDF so you can download and print them. It's very helpful. Everything works so much smoother for us," Clemente said.
"We even post our bids using their web portal, and we get a lot of responses that way," he said. "We've never been disappointed using any of the vendors they've contracted with."
We rate this as a Promise Kept.