Translink FOI release of untendered contract extension begs the question: Which is the easier ride: Skytrain or gravy train ?

A Freedom of Information request released yesterday by Translink after an extended delay, finally shows the details behind one of the contractors involved in providing services relating to the Mayors Council strategic plan and Transit tax plebiscite.

Where to start ?

How about with how long it took for this FOI to be released.

The initial  FOI request was filed on January 9th, 2015. On February 23rd Translink advised they were using a 30 day extension to further consult with a third party and that a response would be given no later than April 8th, 2015. ( the interoffice memo between Translink staff about this release, indicating any highlighted areas are to be redacted is dated January 20th, 2015- which seems to imply that at that point, it was ready for release)

On April 8th a reminder was sent to the Information Access manager at Translink of their prior commitment to respond on that date. Yesterday – April 15th- the information requested was finally released with an apology for the delay,a week post-deadline

Earlier this year, Bob Mackin wrote a post on Translink rolling out the contracts:

Counterpoint scores

On Jan. 2, Counterpoint Communications got a new year’s gift. Its “Business and Stakeholder Outreach” consulting contract was extended indefinitely by TransLink without a bid, because of tight timelines and Counterpoint’s “unique expertise.”

Said the notice of intent: “The Supplier has provided focused stakeholder engagement services to raise awareness of the Mayors’ Council vision, developed a strong understanding of the Mayors’ Plan and provided an important liaison between TransLink/Mayors’ Council and stakeholders.”

Mayors’ Council chair Richard Walton, who is also Mayor of North Vancouver District, was unable to answer about the budget for the contract when I contacted him.

The FOI on this contract is rather open-ended,with few concrete deliverable in place other than what is dictated in the  Schedule A ( pg 8) and a proposal letter sent from Counterpoint to Translink VP Bob Paddon in June of 2014 ( Pg 9)

services (2)

The timeframe for the original contract was June 2014 – December 2014 for $70,000 fees and &4,000 expenses.

An amendment to that contract was signed December 31st,2015 ( pg 15) extending the contract to July 31st 2015, for an additional $100,000 dollars.

No further changes to services were amended.

Also of note is section 17 which notes the following:

nopromotion (2)

While not unusual, it brings to mind the many tweets of Counterpoint principal  Bruce Rozenhart and Counterpoint senior consultant Bob Ransford, both of whom have been very involved in tweeting Yes side links and material on Twitter during the campaign period. I wondered if those tweets are part of the services provided in this contract, and sent an email asking for clarification and comment on this  to Rozenhart.

As of the time of this posting, I have not received a reply, but I’ll post one if he does respond.

If this is any indicator of the kind of contracts being handed out by Translink, it’s alarming on many levels.

What exactly does it mean to ” stimulate/facilitate discussion and information exchange” on the Mayors Council strategic plan and referendum development?

How is this objective measured? What are the deliverables? Where is the concrete plan written into the contract to ensure the best value for money paid is achieved? Are promotional materials involved? Where is the list of stakeholders to be met?

What exactly is Translink paying for? Conversations? Meetings? Tweets? I really don’t know.

A look at Schedule B (pg10) gives us this:

Fees (2)

“…Fees will be paid by Translink in the fixed amount of $74,000 regardless of the amount of time actually expended by the contractor to perform the services.”

Keep in mind, this was extended until July 2015 and for an additional $100,000.00.It’s all very open-ended and frankly, alarmingly vague – it makes me wonder if there are more contracts out there like this!

This is the kind of thing that drives taxpayers batty. We get fixed price contracts and we get the need for public relations and communications strategies. But $174,000.00 for a contract that has no measurable goal-posts in the contract and pays out regardless of how much time was actually spent on “stimulating and facilitating ” discussion and information exchange on the mayors transportation plan and goals?

Which begs the question: Which is the easier ride: Skytrain, or the gravy train?

12 thoughts on “Translink FOI release of untendered contract extension begs the question: Which is the easier ride: Skytrain or gravy train ?

  1. The part I don’t understand is this clause: Inspection of Personal Information

    19. In addition to any other rights of inspection Translink may have under the contract or under statute, Translink may, at any reasonable time and on reassonable notice to the Contractor, enter on the Contractor’s premises to inspect any Personal Information in the possession of the Contractor or any of the Contractor’s information management policies relevant to its management of Personal Information or its compliance with this Schedule and the Cotractor must permit, and provide reasonable assistance to, any such inspection.

    Just what kind of personal information has Translink passed onto Counterpoint Communication? Is Translink even permitted to pass on personal information; how long will Counterpoint Communication retain the data and is there any way of proving that they will shred their copies of the personal information?


  2. This is such standard procedure these days that one can be excused for failing to read it.
    By the way, I wonder how the Mount Polley spill cleanup is progressing?


  3. As someone commented on another blog.
    Translinks’ Mission Statement should read:

    “Translink, doing less with more.”

    $6,000,000.00 to be spent on a referendum that with fail dismally.

    Fire them all and start over. It cant be any worse than whats there now frittering away hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Oh right. Jimmie Pattison is riding to the rescue.


    1. This is the most ridiculous – and alarming- agreement I’ve read about in a while.

      And the fact that neither Todd Stone or Gregor Robertson would comment or confirm when asked if this was still the plan should have everyone up in arms on the North Shore and everywhere else.

      The two bridges that cross the harbour are critical spans and closing the Lions Gate to anything but transit and bikes would absolutely ensure gridlock for generations over the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and its connectors as a result.

      I’ve never been a fan of Gregor Robertson but he needs to take a leadership role on this, own it and make a comment to set the record straight- and so does the Minister of Transportation Todd Stone. They fanned the flames on this one, all on their own.


  4. I thought this blog was about untendered translink contracts?
    Whatever happened to the Site C fiasco?
    What were the results of the +/-$100 million preconstruction tender (the one for the campsite to house all the TFWs)?
    What’s the outcome of the English Bay spill? Did ‘they’ ever get the remaining 20%? Who/what caused it? Who paid for it?
    Who finally ‘cleaned up’ Mount Polley?
    What became of the Kiewit/SNC expose?
    Why do all the Hot Topic issues raised by Laila, Norm, Grant etc. disappear the next day? There are more than 4 million people in BC, and only a couple dozen care enough to comment? Not much a resistance for against the gov’t. de jour


    1. John’s Aghast is right. I have felt this for a long time.
      Some peoples heads should have rolled over Mount Polley, Bill Bennett’s for one. The English Bay spill same thing. BCRail trial, the list goes on! These people know whatever dastardly deeds they are responsible for they only have to wait a few days and everyone will have moved on. Our attention spans have become so short.
      Nothing will ever amount to anything if we all carry on this cycle. We have to find away to keep things in the forefront until those responsible are made to answer with their jobs if need be. Otherwise we can expect nothing to change!
      They keep throwing things at us left and right and I expect they do so for a reason. What we have to do is nail them at one thing then another but not until we get results or its nothing but futile.


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