A nearly $80 million food services contract with Morgan State University drew the ire of Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot amid concerns that it was improperly bid.
“This looks like it was fixed for the incumbent,” Franchot said during Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting.
The university sought approval for a food services contract with Reston, Virginia-based Thompson Hospitality Services. The initial five-year term of the contract is valued at nearly $35.1 million with five optional one-year extensions that could bring the total value to nearly $78.8 million. The company currently operates dining services at the university. That contract expires at the end of the month.
But Franchot balked, saying that the university didn’t do enough to ensure competition on a large contract.
University officials told the board, which also includes Gov. Martin O’Malley and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, that two other bidders submitted bids. One was rejected for failing to meet minority business inclusion goals and another was rejected for failing to meet a minimum technical score.
“This stinks, period,” Franchot said. “Hats off to Thompson. Whatever they did worked. This was not a good deal.”
Franchot said the university “left millions of dollars on the table” by not having a competitive bidding process. Other food services contractors have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to other state colleges such as Towson University, according to the comptroller.
O’Malley said he was “reluctantly” voting for the contract, which also had the support of Kopp, who expressed mild concerns about the incumbent contractor being the only bidder.
Franchot said he planned to urge the university to enter into a month-to-month arrangement with Thompson and rebid the contract despite the board’s approval.