State critical of NYRA bid process

By Lombardo David
Saturday, June 15, 2013

A firm tentatively hired last week by the New York Racing Association will likely have to bid again for its contract due to a list of complaints state regulators had with the procurement process.

The state's Franchise Oversight Board has submitted a memorandum to NYRA that described the hiring of Global Betting Exchange to improve NYRA's online wagering as unjustified. NYRA failed to follow its approved procedures when it searched for a firm to make the improvements, sending out a request for quotations that lacked minimum qualifications, had open-ended terms and failed to identify criteria that would be used to judge bids, according to the memorandum.

The full memorandum is available below.

Based on these concerns, Franchise Oversight Board Chairman Robert Williams wrote, "It is not feasible to award the contract to [Global Betting Exchange]."

The contract was approved at a NYRA board meeting Monday, but it was agreed a new bidding process may be necessary, pending a review of written complaints from the Franchise Oversight Board. After receiving the memorandum with the complaints, NYRA spokesman Eric Wing said the organization would likely rebid the contract.

If the process is not completely quickly, as much as $5 million in fourth-quarter revenue could be in jeopardy, as NYRA anticipated additional revenue due to improvements in online wagering that would be made by Global Betting Exchange.

The memorandum of complaints was obtained by the Gazette from state regulators, as NYRA has not publicized the document, despite a pledge last week by NYRA board Chairman David Skorton that the state's complaints would be an "open public document." The memorandum has not been posted on NYRA's website and a request for the document by the Gazette was denied.

Wing said it wouldn't be appropriate to release the memorandum considering some information on it could contain trade secrets.

State Committee on Open Government Director Robert Freeman, who trained some of NYRA's management on Open Meetings and Freedom of Information law issues, said the existence of trade secrets should not prevent the disclosure of a document. He said the Freedom of Information Law would allow portions of a document to be redacted if there are trade secrets involved, but stressed "the remainder should be disclosed."

There is a full story on the bid process in theSunday issue of the Daily Gazette..

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