by Pearl Hahn

It takes a lot of work to run a city. In addition to various programs, officials must maintain sidewalks and roads, traffic lights, and security, among other services.

The State Procurement Office (SPO), which serves as the central authority on procurement statues and rules for all government bodies of the state, is the central source on all matters of procurement policy. The website is regularly updated with awards, bids, vendors, proposals, and more.

Believe it or not, time flies by while browsing SPO’s site. Going through the City and County of Honolulu bid results for goods, services, and concessions, you can see bids for things like ‘Tree Pruning Services in Kapolei, Ewa, and West Lock Areas.’ The proposal for this service was opened on November 17, 2003, and was listed for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Four bid results are listed to prune a total of 2,620 trees.

How much does it cost to prune a tree?

The first company, Loves Landscaping Co. Inc., charged $44.45 per tree for a total of $116,459. Nilasoni Landscape, Inc., charged $34.99 per tree, adding up to $91,673.80. Smalt & Company, Inc., charged the least at $20.45 per tree, while Trees of Hawaii, Inc., charged the most at $90.00 per tree for a total of $235,800.

The largest bid from Trees of Hawaii, Inc. at $235,800 was nearly four times more than the bid from Smalt & Company, Inc., which charged $53,579 for the same job.

Competition for bids is a good thing. The idea behind it is to be able to secure a quality service at the lowest cost.

No-bid contracts are in the news today. The Associated Press reports in “Stimulus Watch: No-bid Contracts Mean Higher Costs” that no-bid contracts cost taxpayers millions more than when businesses compete for work. In fact, the article claims that the Pentagon saves over three times as much money when companies compete.