NAPC Threatened for Reporting Public Bids
The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB) has threatened the North America Procurement Council with legal action unless the NAPC stops reporting on bids from the board.
In late August, Mr. Thomas P. Goreson, an attorney representing the OERB, sent a letter to Tim Loncarich, CEO of the NAPC. In his letter, he said, “The OERB demands that Oklahoma Bid Network cease posting on its website any projects of the OERB” and that “in the event your company fails to comply with this demand, the OERB will pursue appropriate legal action, including damages, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs.”
For those reading this who are concerned that the NAPC will stop posting such bids and deny contractors the right to know about such opportunities, you can be reassured. Mr. Loncarich has notified Mr. Goreson that the NAPC intends to continue to post bids publicly advertised by the OERB.
As background, according to Wikipedia, “The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (abbreviated as OERB) is an agency of the state of Oklahoma. Funded voluntarily by Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners." The OERB remediates orphaned and abandoned well sites and promotes the oil and gas industry. The board was created by the state of Oklahoma as part of the Oklahoma Energy Education and Marketing Act and was signed into law during the administration of Oklahoma governor David Walters. The wind and solar energy industry are not represented by the board and some of the information dispensed by the board is considered by many to be fossil fuel industry propaganda.
As the OERB notes on its website, quoted based on information publicly posted there on August 24, 2017, it is an Oklahoma “state agency.” Its priorities stated there are admirable; the website states that “the single largest budget allocation goes toward environmental restoration.” It also states that “public and student education together make up the second greatest expenditure.”
As to the OERB’S funding, it is paid for by (again as it says on its website) “a voluntary one-tenth of one percent assessment on the sale of oil and natural gas in Oklahoma, paid for by oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners.” The website says that “major oil companies, large and small independents and royalty owners all contribute an equal share (one-tenth of one percent) to support the OERB in its environmental and educational programs.” As with other state agencies, the funds for this one are collected by the state and then distributed back to the agency for use. As the OERB notes, “The assessment is remitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in the same manner as is required by law for the payment of gross production tax.” The OERB therefore acts like other state agencies, even in this respect, using publicly-funded systems to help collect taxes and distribute them as appropriate and as defined by law.
Unlike most government agencies, the OERB is industry running a government agency for its own purposes.
Its website states that “representation is divided between independent oil and natural gas companies, major oil and natural gas companies, petroleum purchasers and royalty owners.”
The OERB’S chairman is Danny Morgan, who is also the president of Morgan Well Service Inc. and Digger
Oil and Gas Co. The vice-chair is Mike Mcdonald, coowner of Triad Energy, Inc. The secretary is Wade Hutchings, senior vice-president of exploration and production for Devon Energy.
Because it is a state agency, the OERB must by law publicly advertise its bids. When actually put into practice, this requirement ensures that the state agency involved will be able to award contracts at the best value to the people.
In this, the state of Oklahoma, the OERB state agency and Oklahomabids.com, on behalf of the NAPC, all share a common vision of making the best use of tax dollars for projects funded by the state. For the NAPC, as stated on its website at (napc.pro), “One of our goals is to provide public and private organizations with the best possible e-purchasing platform and provide suppliers free and open access to public procurement solicitations in order to streamline the procurement process, reduce costs to taxpayers, improve the quality of suppliers’ services and help stimulate local and national economies.”
What the OERB apparently reacted to, according to its letter from Mr. Goreson , the group’s attorney, was inaccuracies in some of the bid data on Oklahomabids. com. As he noted in his letter to Mr. Loncarich, Mr. Goreson said: “The OERB has contacted your company on several occasions advising you about your inaccurate posting of information on Oklahoma Bid Network. Your website has posted incorrect bid dates, incorrect contact information and incorrect descriptions of the scope of work for projects. Oklahoma Bid Network has acknowledged its failure to post correct information relating to bids on the OERB’S projects. However, despite the OERB’S repeated demands that Oklahoma Bid Network no longer post the OERB’S bid information on its website, your company continues to post erroneous information concerning OERB projects.”
Mr. Goreson’s statement is simply false.
Mr. Loncarich responded to Mr. Goreson’s letter in writing to clarify the NAPC’S role and position on this matter as well as the truth about the errors mentioned by Mr. Goreson. In that letter, Mr. Loncarich said:
“Please note that the website at Oklahomabids.com is owned by the people of Oklahoma. The North America Procurement Council, Inc. PBC (NAPC) is a public benefit corporation that merely administers the site on behalf of the people of Oklahoma. Starting in 2020 we will be seeking an Oklahoma based entity to take on the administration.
It is true that we had previously made an error or two in our reports on the bid advertisements from the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB), and I had initially agreed to temporarily stop posting bids from the OERB. After further consideration and consultation with some of the owners of Oklahomabids.com, it was decided to continue to post the OERB’S data. I should have informed the OERB of our intentions but [was unable to for a short time because of illness] and neglected to assign the task to someone else.
Please be hereby advised that we will continue to publish information related to the OERB, as is our right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that my previous statement to not publish the data is rescinded.
Your statement that we have continued to “post erroneous information concerning OERB projects” is false. When one compares our report with the information publicly advertised by the OERB, there is no erroneous information. Previous errors were corrected shortly after we became aware of them, and measures were taken to ensure that further errors were not made. We have published a total of 140 reports on OERB going back to 2006 bids and as far as I know only two had errors.
One of the errors we had previously was due to the Oklahoma Press Association republishing an old bid ad as new, so that error was not entirely our fault.
The NAPC publishes the procurement solicitations from most government agencies in the U.S. and Canada and expects to publish more than 800,000 reports this year. While we make every effort to only publish correct and complete information, sometimes our data entry staff do make errors. To help ensure that errors are identified and corrected we now have a button on our report form to notify us of an error or an update needed. Users can also use our contact form or call or fax us.
If we do publish any information on an OERB project that is not accurate or needs to be updated, we would be more than happy to correct it immediately.
Since our parent company was founded in 2001, none of the 279,309 project owners we have published bid reports on has ever threatened to sue us for publishing information on their public bids and most value the public service we provide. So, it is rather strange that the OERB is threatening to sue us.
Because OERB does not seem to advertise its bids widely, ourpublishingofoerbbidsisanimportantpublic service because it results in more and higher quality bidders and lower potential cost to OERB. This means that more well sites can be cleaned up more quickly.
The benefit certainly outweighs the minor nuisance of any previous errors in our data. Therefore, the demands of the OERB that we not publish information about their bids is unreasonable and not in the best interests of the people of Oklahoma or the OERB.
At this point I assume that you are just making an empty threat of litigation on behalf of an uninformed employee of the OERB who is pursuing their own interests. If you are really serious about violating the First Amendment and the civil rights of the people of Oklahoma and engaging in tortious interference, I strongly recommend that you first clear it with Attorney General Mike Hunter and Governor Fallin. They may be familiar with the First Amendment and the rights of the press and want to avoid a potentially damaging counter-suit.
If it is your intention to pursue litigation against us, please let me know so that I can notify our 2.5 million users and assemble an effective legal team for a counter-suit. Such a case should be of national interest and presents timely and important issues worthy of public attention. The First Amendment is well founded and there are a vast number of cases to support our easily defensible position.
If it is not your intention to follow through on your threats, then you might want to encourage the OERB to send us their bid advertisements directly or use our free and easy-to-use e-procurement system that puts them in full control of their data and enables them to easily display procurement data from their own website, as they should already be doing.
The work of the OERB is important and needs to be done in an open, effective and transparent manner that results in the best value to industry and gets more well sites cleaned up more quickly.
Please ensure that all OERB Board members receive a copy of this letter.”
On behalf of both the NAPC and the users of Oklahomabids.com, and for the benefit of the people of Oklahoma, Mr. Loncarich intends to continue publishing bids issued by the state of Oklahoma and its agencies on the Oklahomabids.com website. It will continue to report on all the bid opportunities it can find.
The NAPC has been in discussions with The Rutherford Institute about the case and they have offered to provide legal services if further action is needed. The Rutherford Institute is a nonprofit civil liberties organization based in Charlottesville, VA that
is deeply committed to protecting the constitutional freedoms of every American and the integral human rights of all people
This case clearly demonstrates how the increased influence of industry over government subverts the U.S. Constitution and turns government against the people.
In a democracy, government regulates industry and balances the needs of the people against the needs of industry. In an oligarchy, powerful industries and wealthy individuals regulate government for their own self-interests and against the interests of the people.
The U.S. Constitution is what makes America great and prevented us from experiencing the totalitarianism of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and China, but it can only prevail if we continue to defend it.
If we the people don’t defend our Constitution against its enemies, we will end up living in a corporate fascist police state with no rights.
For those unfamiliar with the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This means that every American is free to report on any public bid and anyone who tries to stop them is violating their rights.
The purest form of patriotism is defense of the U.S. Constitution because it is the foundation of what is great about the country.
Supporting those who seek to undermine the Constitution and our rights is not at all patriotic but is instead subversive, just like communists, anarchists, fascists and Islamic jihadists are subversives. Enemies of the Constitution are indeed enemies of the people, even if they are corporations or politicians.
Many Americans have aligned themselves with political movements that are in reality subverting the Constitution while claiming to put America first. You simply can’t support America by undermining the Constitution.
We the people of the United States need to wake the hell up and realize that we can’t give control of our government to corporations and still expect to live in a free country.