Op-ed: Time for Philadelphia residents to get ‘Best Value’

In his column, Mayor Jim Kenney calls for Philadelphians to vote ‘yes’ on Best Values, a proposal 18 of the largest 20 cities in the country already follow.

Mayor Jim Kenney

By Mayor Jim Kenney

When I took office more than a year ago, I pledged to run a city government that delivers efficient, effective services to every single Philadelphian.

Part of that promise involves modernizing the way the city hires contractors and purchases goods. To accomplish that, I need your help.

The existing rules on contracting and procurement — unchanged since 1951 — are sorely in need of an overhaul. The rules force the city to award contracts to the business with the lowest price deemed responsible to carry out the work. Equally important factors — particularly quality of work, past performance and diversity — cannot be considered.

On May 16, Philadelphia voters will have the opportunity to change those outdated rules, by voting on an important ballot question in the city’s municipal primary election. Known as “Best Value,” this proposal would allow the Procurement Office to award public works contracts based on overall best value to the city rather than price alone.

Best Value would apply to big construction projects undertaken by the city that are designed to improve the lives of residents, businesses and tourists alike. I’m convinced it will open the door to more qualified businesses than ever before.

These businesses know how to get the job done the right way and can provide the highest quality service for every contract.

Right now, unfortunately, some of these contractors feel shut out of the process due to the antiquated laws.

Other cities have long seen the true value in Best Value — of the 20 largest U.S. cities, 18 now practice it. Only Philadelphia and Indianapolis do not. The federal government and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania are also guided by Best Value practices. It’s time for OUR city to catch up.

Best Value just makes sense. It will allow the city to get the most of every dollar spent, and include more of the local and minority-owned businesses that contribute so much to our regional economy and the hardworking fabric of our city.

These are the same businesses and workers that keep our wheels spinning, our infrastructure moving and make Philadelphia strong.

Adopting Best Value is the next layer of the foundation that will make our city stronger. It is, quite simply, the best value for taxpayers, business owners and anyone who believes in better days ahead for Philadelphia. On May 16, I urge you to vote “yes” for Best Value. ••