Something’s going on over at Florida A&M University involving its Board of Trustees. Recently they decided to hire an outside PR firm and they’re in the process of finalizing a contract with the Tampa-based agency, Brock Communications.
Before beginning the negotiation of a contract, the Board of Trustees agreed to spend $75,000 to hire a PR firm. However, the Florida A&M University’s procurement rules typically require price quotes from three different proposals. The fact that the Board of Trustees was pursuing a contract with Brock Communications when they were the only PR firm to submit an RFP has some people raising their eyebrows.
In an attempt to find out why the Board of Trustees seems so quick to hire the first PR agency answering their call, the Times-Union reached out to the 12 members of the Board of Trustees via email. But they received no response. According to an article, some of the questions the paper asked included:
1. Why did the Board of Trustees on Monday authorize moving forward with executing a contract although three written quotations have not been received? Is there an exemption allowing the three-quote rule to be ignored?
2. What about Brock Communications’ proposal makes Board members confident it is the best firm for the job?
3. Were Brock Communications’ references checked?
4. Why the short timeline? The PR firm was added as an emergency to a Board agenda within the past month, and now a contract is being drafted for services beginning Sept. 1. Why is such a quick turnaround warranted?
5. Are Board members confident they complete their due diligence with this procurement process?
6. What do Board members think is the role if this PR firm given the university’s in-house media and public relations staff? What makes this a good use of university funding (up to $75,000) in a time when the school is asking the Legislature for more resources to improve student achievement?
Some speculate the sudden move to hire a PR firm stems from the delicate truce between them and the University President, Elmira Mangum. Some say their truce seems to be unraveling. Even after news began to circulate about the Board of Trustees’ rush to hire a PR firm, members of the Board of Trustees still failed to respond to follow-up emails or questions about their reasoning behind hiring an outside PR agency.
It looks like the public will have to wait and see how things play out in the weeks to come at this college.