Council wants more GIS mapping bids

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

Washington’s City Council wants multiple bids, if possible, regarding GIS mapping of the city’s electric system before it awards a contract for that project.

One council member expressed concern that only one bid was solicited.

During its Aug. 22, the council instructed city staff to seek those multiple bids after only one bid on the mapping project was received. That $169,000 bid was submitted by Booth & Associates, which has a history of performing work related to the city’s electric system.

Jeff Clark told the council the lone bid is the result of Booth & Associates being the only company that has “records” and data related to the city’s electric system. Councilman Doug Mercer asked why that is the situation, adding it makes sense to him to provide that data to other companies and solicit bids from them. Doing that could result in a lower bid from another firm qualified to do the work, he said.

“I have a real problem with spending $169,000 and saying it’s going to a company because they have our information,” Mercer said. “That information belongs to us. If that information is needed by someone else to do this project, that information should have been made available to them, and we should have multiple bids on this project.”

Earlier this year, the council authorized the city manager to sign an agreement for Withers Ravenel Inc. to implement the second phase of the city’s overall GIS project at a cost not to exceed $24,200. GIS is an acronym for geographic information system, designed to capture, store, analyze, manipulate and manage all types of spatial data.

The first phase of the project included connecting the city with Beaufort County’s GIS. The second phase includes converting all of the city’s public-works data into a GIS format and maintaining that data in a citywide GIS. The project’s third phase involves integrating the city’s electric utilities data into the city’s GIS.

The city has been revamping its GIS capabilities in recent months. Earlier this year, the council approved an updated GIS zoning map, which city officials and the Planning Board use to make decisions regarding growth and development in the city and in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, an area outside the city where its zoning, building and other similar regulations are in force.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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