October 21, 2013

Regarding Jonetta Rose Barras’s Oct. 20 Local Opinions column, “Should the D.C. Council keep its say on contracts?”:

While the D.C. Council is wise to address the issue of city contracts, its vital role in protecting D.C. taxpayers and workers from irresponsible contractors should not be underestimated. Close scrutiny by the council was crucial in ending an era of contracting scandals. Not long ago, the District’s financially troubled security contractor went belly up, leaving approximately 900 security officers without a paycheck and creating a security vacuum at the District’s public schools. Taxpayers footed the bill for National Guard and D.C. police protection at the schools.

The D.C. Council responded to this crisis by both strengthening the contracting law and using its oversight powers to ensure that city procurement officials follow the law. As a result, District facilities are safer and the security officers who protect us don’t have to worry whether their employer will make payroll.

Council members must continue to help ensure that city contracts are awarded only to companies that meet high standards and provide high-quality services.

Jaime Contreras, Washington

The writer is vice president and capital area director of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ.