Is Respected George Washington University Director of Government Procurement Law The Fall Guy In The NIGP Consulting RFI Controversy? by Jon Hansen

Posted on April 28, 2015


“I have been active in NIGP for many years. I have seen it go from an almost ‘mom and pop’ operation to a well-respected international organization. As organizations grow there are growing pains. Pressures are placed upon the organization to provide more and more services. Rick Grim has taken on that challenge and has worked with the NIGP Board to address those issues. None of the contributors to the blog, including me, have accused Mr. Grimm and NIGP of impropriety or favoritism. In fact NIGP hired an independent consultant to handle the contracting-out process for the consulting practice. I fault the consultant for errors in handling the RFI/RFP process. We all need to trust our own instincts and judge what we would do in comparison to the recommendations of an outside consultant.” – Tom Blaine (Deep Throat 2015)

The above is an excerpt of an e-mail I received from Tom Blaine earlier today.

As is my policy I will, once I have received a response from Tom regarding a number of outstanding questions, post the entire e-mail has written and without edits.

The reason I am posting this excerpt today however, is that it relates directly to the troubling questions that have been raised regarding the NIGP RFI for consulting services – starting with the original Deep Throat (Tom Blaine) post from April 6th.

In that post, in which Blaine’s original e-mail was published as received without any edits, the concern extends beyond the RFI itself.  This includes the conflicts that arose relative to Periscope’s selection through what NIGP Chief Executive Rick Grimm referred to as being a “competitive RFI process.”

Based on my research into Grimm’s claims, which included my contacting (or attempting to contact) the list of respondents, rather than putting to rest any questions regarding the RFI, the investigation raised even more questions.

This is where Tom’s statement that he “faults the consultant for errors in handling the RFI/RFP process” comes into play.

Just for the sake of clarity, only an RFI was distributed to what appears to be a select number of possible candidates, of which only Florida Atlantic University’s Public Procurement Research Center would seem to be a truly viable provider.  Despite references to a subsequent RFP or tender in the RFI itself, none was issued.

That being said, who was the consultant who’s errors in handling the RFI/RFP process for NIGP is the source of the revealed problems?

Is Couture the NIGP's Fall Guy?

                                                              Is Couture the NIGP’s Fall Guy?

According to his bio on the George Washington University Center For Excellence In Public Leadership, Neal J. Couture is Director of Government Procurement Law and Business Programs at the George Washington University Law School, where he is responsible for interdisciplinary graduate degree programs in government contracts and procurement.

His bio goes on to state that Couture is a recognized expert in public procurement with more than 35 years in the field, and that he is a frequent guest speaker, teacher, and author.

Prior to joining George Washington, Neal was Executive Director of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), the preeminent profession association for Federal government contracting.

He also holds an M.A. in Education and Human Development from GW, and completed graduate studies in Applied Behavioral Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

The question this raises is simply this . . . is the NIGP RFI a reflection of the work of someone with both the length and depth of experience of a Neal Couture?  Or to put it another way, does the NIGP consulting RFI represent the level of quality and standards one would expect from someone with Mr. Couture’s qualifications?

I did of course contact Mr. Couture who basically said that he cannot comment on the RFI or any story related to it, as he is restricted from doing so because of his contract with the NIGP.  He then suggested that if I had any questions, that I should contact the NIGP directly.

He did however thank me for giving him the courtesy of a call prior to my running the story.

I suppose that we will have to let Mr. Couture’s work speak for him. (NOTE: Here is the link to the NIGP Consultancy RFI)

In the meantime, I do not at this point see this revelation as well as the unveiling of Tom Blaine as Deep Throat – which by the way was the result of Rick Grimm listing his name as one of the RFI respondents – detracting from the bigger issues.  I am of course talking about the continuing conflict of interest related to the NIGP – Periscope relationship.

At the end of the day this is, and continues to be, the main story.

NIGP Tom Blaine (Deep Throat)

Tom Blaine (Deep Throat 2015) Click Image For Bio

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