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Georgia company to fuel Maryland vehicles

ANNAPOLIS — A Georgia-based company will be responsible for the supply and distribution of fuel at state facilities, despite the strenuous objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot, who lamented that a Maryland company did not win the $305 million award.

Mansfield Oil Co. in Gainesville, Ga., was awarded a five-year contract by the Department of General Services that includes two, two-year options that could bring the award’s total value to $548 million.

The Board of Public Works — comprised of Franchot, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp — voted 2-1 to approve the contract award.

Franchot said he was disappointed the agency could not award the contract to an in-state company, especially given the award’s size and length. Mansfield will hold the contract at least until 2017, but perhaps as late as 2021 if both options are exercised.

Of the four finalists for the award, none were Maryland companies.

“For some reason … we couldn’t find one Maryland fuel supplier,” Franchot said in apparent disbelief.

Alvin C. Collins, secretary of general services, said three state companies responded to the agency’s Request for Proposals, but two were immediately thrown out because they did not adequately address parameters in the request. The last was disqualified because it did not have the ability to provide necessary services, he said.

After examining the third Maryland business, Collins said the agency basically told the bidder “you couldn’t get there even if you tried.”

“We did do every effort we could,” Collins said. “We think that the price … is very, very competitive,” so the agency could not restart the bidding process in an attempt to lure another Maryland company. Law prevents the state from giving preference to local companies when awarding a contract.

The secretary also noted that the Maryland companies that were disqualified — and the other out-of-state options — were not protesting the award.

“We don’t have a bid protest, which is unheard of,” Collins said. It’s also likely that Mansfield will hire Maryland subcontractors, he said.

The Maryland Statewide Fuel Dispensing Management System dispenses 10.8 million gallons of various motor fuels per year at more than 100 facilities across the state. About 15,000 state vehicles can use the stations.

Eight tasks are articulated in the contract, include replacing the state’s aging fuel-dispensing system, monitoring environmental and operational safety of the system and providing emergency response. Mansfield was the only company able to meet all eight tasks. The agency considered awarding parts of the contract to separate companies if it made fiscal sense, but Mansfield was the best option, Collins said.

Franchot said he did not have a problem with the decision of the agency, but was instead frustrated that state companies were not in a position to effectively enter the bidding process. The comptroller said he wanted to explore what could be done that was “appropriate, legal and ethical” that could have helped a Maryland company win the contract.

“I just think we need to appreciate and acknowledge what we have and let them compete,” Franchot said, adding that even though the procurement may have been technically correct, it “was flawed.”

“These contracts are important,” Franchot said.

O’Malley and Kopp remained silent for much of the discussion before voting in favor of the award.

The board also voted unanimously to approve the award for a $598 million inmate health care contract, to be used by the Maryland Division of Correction and Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services.

The winner of the contract was Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources Inc., which beat out St. Louis-based Corizon Inc.

Corizon is protesting the award, but the Department of Budget and Management asked the board to approve the award because the vendor could make important service improvements and address concerns noted in a legislative audit.