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Agenda Topic: D1 on the City Council Agenda on Nov. 12, 2019

From: domainremoved <Soody>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2019 10:39:29 -0800

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Dear Council -
I was just made aware of Item D1 on the Consent Calendar of the 11/12/2019 City Council meeting agenda<https://www.menlopark.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11122019-3355>.
Agenda Item:
Item D1, asks the Council to “Authorize the city manager to enter into a professional services agreement with E-Ikon, LLC for information technology consultation services for six months, with an annual option to renew up to two years, not to exceed the budgeted amount each fiscal year (Staff Report 19-246-CC<https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/23398/D1-20191112-CC-E-Ikon>).
Recommendation:
It is recommended that the contract not be renewed, at least not in its current state, until additional information has been made available and it’s been posted with adequate notice for others to also bid.
Summary of Concerns:
At the outset, let me applaud the Staff’s efforts in providing opportunity to women and minority owned small businesses. This is something that we should all strife for. This is not an indication that the Contractor lacks expertise, rather that its qualifications are not apparent, and we can only go by what is available.

1. Lack of opportunity for other contractors to bid;

2. Inadequate disclosed credentials and required expertise of the Contractor;

3. Unprofessional and inadequate Contractor website exemplifying lack of credentials and attention to industry standards, both as it relates to identifying itself and those used in the implementation of the technical work;

4. No clear delineation as to who is in charge of the deliverables: Is it the contractor or the City’s IT Manager? The granularity of work that this contractor is purporting to be providing in its RFP seems more along the line of IT outsourcing. Is that what the City needs as opposed to highly expert consultants?

5. Has there been a determination of all of the expertise needed for the implementation of the IT Master Plan? How many Consultants are needed? Is there efficiency in identifying those who can handle more than one area, with the caveat that if a larger company is needed, they subaward to smaller businesses, in particular women and minority owned businesses? Are there resources available through other municipalities who have gone through this process, in particular with Open.Gov<http://Open.Gov> platform?

6. In the customary style of other Staff Reports, there are many words with little information (e.g., “posture,” “efficiencies”). These concerns raised, are based on available data, or lack thereof. It is possible that if more information had been provided, the concerns would have been alleviated. Streamlined, data driven reports and proposals would increase the efficiency of the review process, not just by residents but also by Council.
Background:
“On July 10, the City entered into professional services agreement #002718<https://www.menlopark.org/Archive/ViewFile/Item/9574> with E-Ikon, LLC to provide information technology consultation services for a period of approximately six-months. This contract is expected to be fully expended by December 31.”
Issues, Exemplary Details:

1. Notice
There is not readily identifiable evidence that this project was adequately noticed. A continuing issue with many of the contracts is inadequate notice and posting. This matter has been raised by many Menlo Park residents, multiple times, including by me.

a. The Staff Report 19-246-CC, under the heading Public Notice states that the notification requirement has been achieved by posting the agenda, at least 72 hours prior to the meeting.

b. It may be true that the ‘requirement’ has been met. However, as has been brought up many times before, we strive for best practices, not minimum requirements, for several reasons, including but not limited to, encouraging others to bid on competitive contracts instead of the current method which favors incumbents who have advance notice and time to prepare proposals; and to bring transparency to the bidding process to encourage the best candidates to be hired by the City.

2. Date of Proposal
The date of proposal is missing.

a. Attachment A to the Staff Report 19-246-CC does not include a date. When was the proposal provided? Was it after the posting 72 hours ago or did E-Ikon, LLC had prior knowledge (more likely) in which case it gave it an unfair advantage over any other Applicants, even if others could react in such a short notice period.

3. Credentials
No information is available about the credentials of the Contractor.

a. The one page website<https://e-ikon.com/> of the contractor, E-Ikon, LLC, is devoid of any information about the company, its owner (although the name appears in the contract), clients, projects, etc.

b. In fact, upon performing a search on Google, a place holder “about<https://e-ikon.com/about/>” page (not available through the website menu) appears using the standard “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet” placeholder text. On this same page, it lists: 1235 Divi St. #1000 San Francisco, CA 94143 as its contact information. Upon further search of that address, the placeholder page of exactly same content appears under the website Divi<https://www.divihero.com/>, which is a known web-site theme.

c. Why does this matter? For a company purporting to be an expert in IT, it seem odd to have commercially-sourced theme pages which are still set to “lorem ipsum,” a placeholder text commonly used to demonstrate the visual form of a document or a typeface without relying on meaningful content.

d. Any reliable, credible, and professional service provider must include details of who is behind the service, their credentials, and verifiable exemplary work. The company asserts that it has been in operation since 2007. Surely, 12 years is sufficient to build a repertoire that can be disclosed, especially since the client are stated to be public entities and not private entities with confidential work.

e. At the risk of appearing elitist, upon search, even owner’s LinkedIn page lacks stated credentials (names universities but not degrees or certifications).

4. Expertise
There is a large expertise gap between project management and “highly complex technical expertise” in particular when it comes to cybersecurity.

a. The presence of the contractor’s expertise is not clear, in particular since no exemplary work references are available on the company’s website exemplifying the highly technical expertise stated in the Staff Report and the Proposal.

b. In the Staff Report, under the heading “Analysis.” Staff recommends that E-Ikon, LLC continue to support staff with “highly complex technical expertise,” project management, and streamlining and negotiating of information technology services.The proposal (Attachment A) in the Overview section states: “E-Ikon serves its public agency clients typically in strategy, program, and project management.”

5. Results for the existing contract
There are no details about the output of the existing contract period.

a. The existing contract #002718 is for six months, ending at the end of Dec. 2019.

b. The proposal under the heading “The Opportunity” states that “we have till now helped save the organization over $50,000 by recommending new support and maintenance contracts; and re-negotiating the existing ones. That is an incredible accomplishment worth providing specifics. Exactly where were these savings?

6. Specific Expected Results
The details of deliverables for the work to be performed in the proposed period lacks specificity.

a. Staff Report, in its Analysis section provides “Staff recommends that E-Ikon, LLC continue to support staff with highly complex technical expertise.” “Some specific results that E-Ikon, LLC would deliver are included in Attachment A.”

                                               i. Turning to the two pages of table at the end of the 6 pages Attachment A, it provides a first section directed to 5 specific activities of the IT Master Plan, spanning from 2019-07-01 to 2022-06-30.

                                             ii. The Opportunity, Proposal, and Outline (the two page table) sections of the proposal provide that one of the main roles of the company is “to maintain and improve a strong cybersecurity posture of the City.” However, in the project layout, Cybersecurity is given a “Low Priority” in Phase 3. Cybersecurity is never a low priority.

                                            iii. Cybersecurity is much more than applying remediation based on recommendations. What is this plan? Although certain activities are ‘continuous,’ developing these plans can be broken up to metric-driven deliverables. The proposal is silent on what industry standards is the Contractor using in implementing the cybersecurity measures.

b. The stated plan lacks a fundamental requirement, namely, education program.
Received on Tue Nov 12 2019 - 10:30:54 PST

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