LOS ANGELES: Two Los Angeles City Council members are questioning the need for a trio of communications-related contracts awarded by the Los Angeles International Airport worth nearly $4 million combined.
Councilmen Dennis Zine and Bill Rosendahl asked if the contracts were awarded after a competitive and transparent bidding process, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Council will vote on whether the matter should be reviewed by a subcommittee, and that body will make a recommendation on what the final action on the contracts should be.
One contract in question was awarded to the Phelps Group. It is worth more than $1.6 million, and it has a focus on public education and communication services. Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees LAX, wants to launch an effort that will inform various stakeholder groups about modernization projects, as well as future critical infrastructure and facility upgrade projects.
“It is important that we communicate the construction impacts, while also building a sense of anticipation for those who have been demanding an efficient airport that meets today's travelers' needs,” Mary Grady, MD for media and PR at Los Angeles World Airports, said in a statement.
“Why wouldn't we tell them all about the more than 25 capital improvement projects that are creating tens of thousands of jobs, without using any taxpayer dollars from the city's general fund?,” she asked, in the statement.
The other contracts are $1.5 million in work assigned to AdEase for media buying, and one worth up to $690,000 awarded to Nothing Films for video production services.
Grady added that the contracts were awarded after a competitive RFP process that took a year, and included public comment on the solicitation. The pacts are also being paid for by airport revenue, not taxpayer dollars as the councilmen suggested, she said.
State records show that Cook + Schmid, Everfield Consulting, Rogers – Finn Partners, Trailer Park, and West Coast Public Affairs responded to the RFP for the contract that was ultimately awarded to Phelps.
“Phelps clearly demonstrated experience managing similar multiple-year public education communication services, developing comprehensive strategic plans to drive awareness, conducting marketing research, and implementing marketing plans,” according to state documents.
If the council decides to the nix the contracts, Grady noted that her in-house staff does not have the capability to perform media buying or video production. If the Phelps contract got scrapped specifically, state records show that her staff would do a “far more limited campaign.”
Staff from Phelps did not immediately return requests for comment. Representatives from Ad Ease and Nothing Films deferred comment to Grady.
The state of California has been increasingly wary of large PR contracts. Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown cancelled a contract between the state's Department of Transportation and agency Words Pictures Ideas worth nearly $10 million to promote major bridgework in the Bay Area through digital and community relations. He considered the contract too expensive.