Copy that!

Sandra Clark

In a world that’s going increasingly paperless, Knox County Schools plans to spend $2 million this year to lease copy machines.

The deal passed the school board without debate and, under a court-sanctioned agreement, Knox County Commission cannot question how the school board spends money specifically. So the commission ratified the contract Nov. 16.

Terry Hill, school board member, pointedly passed on the vote, leading to this exchange:

“Terry – I noticed you passed on the copy machine vote and wondered if you have a minute to discuss it?” – Sandra
“Probably better not this time! I wouldn’t let you print what I had to say anyway.” – Terry

The bids for high speed printers were opened Oct. 7 by Knox County Purchasing. The bid stated: “The best value means more than low cost. It includes the initial cost, service quality and other factors detailed herein.”

Two evaluators rated the bids: Josh French, senior buyer for Knox County Purchasing, and Robin Lane, supervisor of business services with Knox County Schools.

Riso, the current vendor, was awarded the contract for options 1 and 2; NovaCopy for option 3. Hugh Holt, director of purchasing for Knox County, said he thinks the school system will lease machines from both vendors depending on need.

Bob Thomas, assistant superintendent for administrative services, told the school board Nov. 2, “We went through county purchasing because we wanted to totally avoid anything that was not totally transparent.” The schools spent $2.5 million this year and he hopes to save $500,000 with the contract.

The school system anticipates printing 60-70 million black and white and 20-30 million color copies annually and will lease approximately 150 printers. While the bid is for one year, the intent is a five-year contract which can be renewed annually with prices adjusted by mutual consent at each renewal period.

The vendor will own and maintain the equipment, provide supplies including ink, and train a designated user at each location.

Bidders were asked to quote on five options.

Riso Inc. currently holds the KCS contract. Riso works locally through Advanced Office Systems, headed by Terry Kerbs with offices at 10645 Dutchtown Road, and has four certified service technicians for its Kagaku printers.

The Massachusetts-based company bid only on options 1 and 2, stating its ComColor printers “meet the specifications exactly.” Lease prices per year were $4,549 for option 1 and $5,499 to $6,829 for option 2. No other vendor bid on these options, although NovaCopy offered side-by-side printers with the same footprint. Its offer was not allowed.

Two vendors went head-to-head on option 3, with NovaCopy edging out Thermocopy of Tennessee. The county did not award a contract for option 4 or 5.

NovaCopy, a Memphis-based corporation with a Knoxville location, offered Konica Minolta equipment with 65 service technicians in Tennessee and nine in Knoxville. Its bid was $1,140 per year. Nova was rated 50 points on price and 18 of 20 points for experience.

Thermocopy offered Ricoh machines with 19 factory-trained service technicians available. Its bid was $3,545 to $7,371. It was rated 43.7 of 50 points on price.

PMB offered Xerox equipment at prices from $1,429 to $3,598 per year for options 3-5, but was not included in the final evaluation because it refused to accept county-required language on contract terms, Holt said.

County purchasing has changed from the days when bids were awarded for the lowest price unless some disqualifying factor caused the low bid to be tossed. That was transparency. Holt says the current practice is designed to avoid shenanigans. “It’s not subjective. It’s based on an algebraic algorithm.”

Evaluation Criteria

Cost – 50 Points

Experience – 20 Points
To include number of years in business, local annual sales, years of manufacturer representation.

Capabilities – 20 Points
To include number of local certified service technicians, number of local service vehicles, monetary size of local parts inventory.

References – 10 Points

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