Editorial: County can become leaner, quicker with purchasing changes

  • Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 8:43 p.m.

Imagine all the changes in your life over the past 20 years. It’s a safe bet two decades of time have offered at least some transitions unforeseen years ago.

The same can certainly be said about the transformation of government and public policy. That’s why we’re thankful to see Aiken County moving forward with changes to policies that have gone untouched since 1993.

Government too often gets stuck in doing things the same old way, particularly when it comes to finances.

Departments get the same budget as last year. Salaries seem to stay the same regardless of performance.

But Aiken County staff and County Council fortunately seem to understand, at least, at times, that Albert Einstein adage that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

On Tuesday, Council unanimously approved first reading in title only of a proposal changing the way county money is used to buy everything from office supplies to large-scale items such as cars and office furniture.

Although the idea still needs to be fleshed out, the changes are intended to make the buying of equipment, supplies and services easier and more efficient.

Any adjustment obviously needs to be in line with state and federal regulations, especially when it comes to keeping the process as open to the public as possible.

Those state and federal regulations have undoubtedly changed over the years, so it’s easy to understand what prompted the County to consider altering its way of doing things.

Local governments cannot simply ride down to the local store and buy something such as a playground slide, even if they had enough in the coffers.

It’s a very formal and systematic process.

Currently, any purchase by the County over $10,000 must go through a sealed bid process, meaning companies must give the County bids in sealed, time-stamped envelopes.

According to County Administrator Clay Killian, as well as our own observations, this is a cumbersome procedure and likely deters some companies from even participating.

If Council ultimately approves the proposed changes, only items over $50,000 would have to be processed through sealed bids.

Items under that value would obviously still be public, but the process would be less clunky and drawn-out.

We obviously want our government to use our money wisely, but for a County with a budget that’s over $50 million, there are certainly mountains and then there are mole hills when it comes to spending priorities.

With ever-tightening budget constraints, we applaud Aiken County’s efforts to become leaner, more efficient and hopefully save time and money in the long run.

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