“You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”
These words were uttered by Steve Buscemi’s character in the sci-fi flick, “Armageddon,” as the crew blasted off in a space shuttle to save humanity from an asteroid hurling through space on a collision course with Earth.
The quote surfaced out of the distant recesses of my mind when I read a PRWeek piece about Los Angeles City Councilmen Dennis Zine and Bill Rosendahl questioning $3.8 million in PR contracts awarded by Los Angeles International Airport.
The pair of politicians, who are in a position to vote down the contracts, asked if the contracts were awarded after a competitive and transparent bidding process—as if the lowest bid will always produce the best results.
There’s nothing wrong with asking the question. The contracts will be paid with tax dollars and the rules call for competitive bids. But when determining whether the contracts will be money well spent, asking about bid rules is asking the wrong question. Or, at least, it’s asking a good question in the wrong order.