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The Office of the Chief Financial Officer really does not want to give that ad contract to the Washington Informer. They didn’t award it after a protest, and they didn’t award it after Mayor Vince Gray complained. And on Monday, the independent agency doubled down further on its refusal to classify the Informer as a “newspaper of general circulation.”
Background if you don’t usually follow procurement intrigues: Over the summer, the Informer competed with the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, and the Washington Post for a city contract to advertise unclaimed property. Even though the Informer had the lowest overall bid (if the highest per reader), the CFO’s office disqualified it from competing for the contract, saying that it did not qualify because it had pitched itself as a way to reach D.C.’s black residents, rather than all Washingtonians. The contract eventually went to the Times, and the Informer appealed.
In a motion filed in the appeal case Monday, the CFO’s office sets out its three reasons for not awarding the contract to the Informer. Essentially, they are:
- The race thing.
- The Informer isn’t distributed as widely as the other papers.
- It has lower circulation than its competitors.
Since those last two reasons both seem like pretty solid explanations for not awarding the contract without even getting into demographic issues, it’s starting to look like the CFO’s office, by bringing up race at all, earned itself a headache for no good reason.