In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Purac Engineering, Inc.,




against Docket #FIC 86-131


The Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Bristol,


Respondent July 23, 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 3, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:


1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. At a regular meeting held on April 16, 1986 the respondent considered the choice of a vendor for "Lamella Plate Settler Equipment" for a water treatment plant, designated as contract no. 84-108. The respondent accepted comments from representatives of the complainant and of the Parkson Company, following which it convened in executive session for approximately 25 minutes. Upon reconvening in public session the respondent voted unanimously to award the contract to the Parkson Company.


3. The results of the respondent's April 16, 1986 vote were reported in the form of a recommendation to the city council, which subsequently voted to award contract no. 84-108 to the Parkson Company.


4. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on May 16, 1986 the complainant alleged that the April 16, 1986 executive session was not held for any of the proper purposes defined at 1-18a(e), G.S. and that the selection of a contractor, without deliberation, after an improper executive session undermined the objectives and integrity of the competitive bidding process.


Docket #FIC 86-131 Page Two


5. The complainant asked that the Commission declare the respondent's vote null and void and require the respondent to convene in public session to deliberate and vote upon the award of contract no. 84-108.


6. Although not raised in the complaint, the Commission notes that the respondent failed to announce the purpose of the executive session and failed to record the votes of the members on the motion to convene in executive session, in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.


7. The respondent claims that because the public's health and safety would be affected by the choice of a vendor for contract no. 84-108, the executive session was properly convened pursuant to 1-18a(e)(3), G.S.


8. It is found that discussion of the choice of a vendor for equipment for a water treatment plant does not concern security strategy or the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(3), G.S.


9. The respondent failed to prove that the April 16, 1986 executive session was convened for any of the other proper purposes listed at 1-18a(e), G.S.


10. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S. when it convened in executive session on April 16, 1986 to discuss the relative merits of the complainant and of the Parkson Company.


11. Prior to April 16, 1986 the respondent had heard several presentations from both the complainant and the Parkson Company and, at hearing, the respondent articulated the reasons for its choice of the Parkson Company. It is noted that neither the complainant nor the Parkson Company raised an objection when the respondent convened in executive session to deliberate.


12. It is found that the impropriety of the April 16, 1986 session did not affect the integrity of the respondent's choice and that declaring the respondent's action null and void would not advance the position of the complainant. The Commission therefore declines to grant the relief requested by the complainant.


Docket #FIC 86-131 Page Three


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.


1. The respondent shall henceforth convene in executive session only for one or more of the proper purposes listed at 1-18a(e), G.S.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at is regular meeting of July 23, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission