The State of Alaska is restarting the bidding process on janitorial contracts for three state office buildings after the winning bidder won more contracts than their business could handle. It’s good news for REACH Custodial Services, which held the contracts for 20 years. REACH is a non-profit that assists and employs people with developmental disabilities. Even with a 15 percent “procurement preference” from the state, REACH’s bid wasn’t competitive enough.
REACH Executive Director Millie Ryan said her organization plans to rebid on janitorial contracts for the State Office Building, Dimond Courthouse and 3rd floor of the Capitol building.
“We’ll be taking a look at what we did before, but we need to make sure that whatever we put in is going to cover our costs,” Ryan said. “We will make it the most competitive bid that we can make it.”
Ryan said most who worked at the state offices were able to find other employment after the contract ended July 1.
“We were able to absorb people into some of our other janitorial contracts and we worked really closely with the people at the Juneau Job Center,” Ryan said. “We also looked at it as an opportunity to find them jobs outside of REACH.”
The winning bidder on the contracts, JJG Cleaning Services, had bid on 10 contracts for custodial services and won eight of them. Andy Mills, a spokesman for the Department of Administration, said JJG decided to terminate three of the contracts “due to workload and staffing issues.”
The contracts hadn’t been out to bid in 20 years because of the state’s “employment program and disability preference,” which allowed the contract with REACH to be exempted from the procurement process. The preference allows the state to give extra consideration to businesses that are owned by or are employing people with disabilities.
Mills said that while the long-standing contract with REACH was valued, the competitive bidding process had to be reinstated.
“While we cannot answer for previous administrations, this administration has a strong focus on cost savings and best value resulting in the first competitive bid in recent memory for janitorial services in Juneau-area state offices,” Mills wrote in an e-mail.
JJG will provide custodial services on the contracts until a new contract can be awarded.
• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.