IMS Engineers could officially be on its way out as Jackson’s one-percent program manager.
Last week, members of the city’s one-percent oversight commission asked the legal department for advice on canceling the firm’s contract and rebidding the position.
“If we chose to fund a program manager and wanted different criteria (for the next manager would the city have) to cancel IMS’ contract?” Commissioner Pete Perry asked.
Legal is expected to report back by the board’s August meeting, he said.
IMS was brought on in December 2015 for $840,000 to oversee the implementation of the first-year master plan.
The contract was for one-year and gave the city the option to extend the agreement for two one-year periods.
The council was expected to consider renewing the deal in December 2016. However, because funding for the first year had not run out by that time, IMS was allowed to continue working.
Money finally ran out around April, and the firm transitioned its management role over to public works.
Even though funding ran out, the contract was never officially canceled, and some members of the commission were left wondering whether the agreement had to be terminated before the position could again be advertised.
“Since there is no funding, do we have to cancel it (before we can) rebid it?” Perry asked.
IMS was seeking $1.5 million for the second year. However, members never approved additional funding, citing the firm’s performance.
IN April 2016, IMS was criticized for not moving fast enough on implementing one-percent projects, and in October the firm was called out for not adequately preparing for the commission’s monthly meetings.
In February more troubles for the firm popped up, when it was named in a lawsuit against former mayor Tony Yarber.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in February, a former city employee stated the mayor wanted to rig the system to award several major contracts to his political donors.
IMS was awarded the position of program manager, despite receiving the third-highest score among firms seeking the position. (Neel-Schaffer, who received the highest score during the evaluation process, was initially offered the job but turned it down. SOL Engineers had the second-highest score.)
Even with those concerns, the commission and the city have never acted on the contract.
Commissioners have not approved funding for program management for a second year, and have all but refused to talk about it.
In December, the commission did not have a quorum and therefore couldn’t vote on whether to fund IMS for another year. In January, a motion was brought to the table so the contract could be discussed, but it died for a lack of a second. And in February, the topic of program management services was included on the agenda, but the meeting ended before the topic was brought up.
In March, the commission passed a master plan that included provisions regarding program management services, dictating that the role of the program manager “shall be determined by the commission and (that the manager) will serve as a liaison between the commission, the department of public works and the city.” Even then, funding for IMS was not discussed.
For its part, the city council has not had an opportunity to vote on the agreement. Yarber did not ask the council to extend the contract before leaving office, and it was not known at press time if new Mayor Chokwe Lumumba would be in favor of continuing it.
Mississippi Code Section 27-65-241 establishes the tax and the responsibilities of the commission. The commission, according to code, is responsible for helping the city draw up a master plan and ensuring tax revenues are spent in compliance with it. The city has the authority to enter into and cancel contracts
The commission has not approved additional funding for the program manager, meaning Jackson could keep IMS in place, but would have to pay for the contract out of general funds.