Sheriff presents suspicious, inflated bid -Jacobs reviewing-

POSTED: 01/24/13 10:11 AM

St. Maarten – The contract for the security of public schools is being reviewed and contrary to reports, no contract has been issued to Sheriff Security Force N.V, Education Minister Silveria Jacobs said yesterday. The security company has quoted an alarming amount for its services to the tune of 119 thousand guilders per month. It more than doubles the amount it was receiving last year; 59 thousand guilders per month.

“Security of the schools is a priority for government but we have to make sure that we do not overspend and that what we are paying for is what we are getting,” Jacobs said.

The company has been providing security at public schools for a number of years but the minister said that when it came time for a new contract to be in place as of January 1, Sheriff’s bid was the highest. She and the Secretary General were concerned that the company had been receiving payments over the years for services that were never rendered. Approximately five companies bid for the contract and the supporting documentation for Sheriff’s proposed increase was not there.

“There was some discussion about 24 hours service which is not really rendered in any of the schools, there was talk about cameras and dogs, humans and shifts. It will take some time to go through it in detail. There is not enough substantiating evidence for the increase whether it’s the time or persons that they would like to have. There was also a question about the state of the schools and it being more expensive to secure them,” the minister continued. “The original contract that the security company had been working under included surveillance cameras. These were not provided either.”

An advice prepared by the Division of Public Education, which was recently under investigation, recommended the company for the contract based on the results of the bidding process.

“A major concern is almost the doubling of the cost of the new contract compared to the current contract in a time where there is already a significant budget deficit for public education,” the minister said.

She added that the matter was only discussed in a meeting on Tuesday and she found it “unfortunate” that someone found it necessary to leak the information so that it was published in the media yesterday.

“We are not going to be operating with a gun to our heads. Certain decisions have to still be made in the interest of all concerned.”

Jacobs said that the company is now claiming that it had been providing even more services than it was contracted for originally.


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