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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 3, 2012 at 5:43 PM

State retreats on public relations contract after criticism

The state of Washington has walked back a decision to award a $400,000 contract to GMMB, a Seattle public relations firm, after receiving criticism for not holding a competitive bidding process.

The state had announced on June 22 that it planned to award to GMMB a contract to inform residents about President Obama’s health care law. It decided against soliciting bids, according to the announcement, because GMMB had done similar work for other states and would be “able to meet demands under an aggressive project timeline, and do it quickly and cost-efficiently.”

But the state reconsidered last week after getting complaints from groups like the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank, and decided to solicit competitive bids for the contract.

“People were starting to raise questions about what the intent was, and we thought it was probably best to take a step back,” said Stan Marshburn, the deputy director of the state’s Office of Financial Management.

“The work we’re trying to do is reasonable and important,” Marshburn added, “and we don’t want to get it all tied up in people’s conspiracy theories.”

The state will now solicit bids from the state’s master list of companies who do such work. GMMB is not on that list, Marshburn said. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.

The decision to solicit competitive bids was first reported by the Washington State Wire.

Jason Mercier, the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, applauded the state’s decision.

“It’s always better to do a competitive bid for this type of stuff,” he said.

Comments | More in homepage, Politics Northwest | Topics: GMMB

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