Public records office releases names of the entities bidding on discrimination study

7/12/2017 update: 

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

Below please find the names of the vendors who responded to procurement number 900100-00012-RFP, responsive to your request made on 07/12/2017.

• Berkeley Research Group, LLC
• Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.
• Robert K. Toutkoushian, Ph.D.
• Sibson Consulting

The office considers this be fully responsive to your request, and will now close this matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.

Turns out there’s a public records exemption for the full bids, if the public agency is still negotiating. I’ll get them eventually:

(6)(a) Notwithstanding ORS 192.410 to 192.505, proposals may be opened in a manner to avoid disclosing contents to competing proposers during, when applicable, the process of negotiation, but the contracting agency shall record and make available the identity of all proposers as part of the contracting agency’s public records after the proposals are opened. Notwithstanding ORS 192.410 to 192.505, proposals are not required to be open for public inspection until after the notice of intent to award a contract is issued. The fact that proposals are opened at a meeting, as defined in ORS 192.610, does not make the contents of the proposals subject to disclosure, regardless of whether the public body opening the proposals fails to give notice of or provide for an executive session for the purpose of opening proposals.

7/10/2017: Public records office stalls release of public bids on faculty discrimination study

Back in May UO sent out a “Request for Proposals to Conduct Salary Equity Study for the University of Oregon Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Ranks” as posted below. The bidding closed at 5PM on June 9th. After a decent and proper waiting period, on June 18th I made a public records request for the bids:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: PR request Salary Equity proposals
Date: June 18, 2017 at 10:25:52 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of all bids submitted in response to:

RFP to Conduct Salary Equity Study for the University of Oregon Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Ranks,
UO General / Budget Control – 900100
UO Central Budget – 950001
PCS Administration – 431150

at https://pcs.uoregon.edu/content/business-opportunities

I ask for a fee-waiver on the basis of public interest.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
http://harbaugh.org

On July 6th I followed up, and today I received this response:

Documents responsive to your public records request made 6/18/2017 are currently exempt under ORS 192.502 (9). You are welcome to resubmit your request once the procurement has been awarded.

Our office considers this to be fully responsive to your request and will now close this matter. Thank you for contacting the office with this request.

Really? If that’s true, they could have told me three weeks ago. But is it true? That section of ORS 192 is all about attorney-client privilege – not about bids on public contracts. A quick google search of the handy online version of the DOJ’s PR and PM Manual at http://www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/manual/public_records.shtml says that the bids are public, once bidding is closed:

Bids are confidential, but only prior to the close of the Invitation to Bid and the time set for bid opening. See ORS 279B.055(5)(a) and 279C.365(3)(c) and (4). Once bids have been opened, they are available for public inspection, except to the extent that the bidder has appropriately designated parts of the bid as trade secrets, which may then be exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.501(2), or as information submitted to a public body in confidence, which may be exempt under ORS 192.502(4). See ORS 279B.055(5)(c).

And bidding is unambiguously closed:

I’ve sent the PRO and GCO a request for clarification, on their exemption claim, and will post the response here.

5/16/2017: UO issues RFP for study of gender and racial discrimination

More on this later, this post is just a placeholder. The RFP is here. The main output looks like a simple regression, for which UO will provide the data. I’m no econometrician, but it’s about an hour’s work – maybe two if you look at time trends, instead of just the proposed 2017 snapshot. It will be interesting to see how much the consultants’ bids come in at:

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14 Responses to Public records office releases names of the entities bidding on discrimination study

  1. Old Man says:

    Three hours. Because logarithms…

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  2. uotechmatters says:

    uomatters, why not submit a bid?

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    • UO Matters says:

      Because I’d be embarrassed charging my university for doing the kind of work I’d assign as a homework exercise?

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      Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  3. Anonymous says:

    “University reserves the right to approve the study’s final design, including variables and criteria.” Translation: We’re gonna p-hack.

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    • UO Matters says:

      The union’s MOU with the administration says they’ll consult with the faculty union on study design.

      I’m no member of the union’s executive committee, but if I were I’d certainly enjoy those discussions, particularly if the consultant is paid a flat-rate and not by the hour.

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      • Anonymous says:

        That’s good but wouldn’t really stop them. They’ve already got the data, they can take any proposed analysis, quietly run it themselves, and if it looks bad come up with a reason to change it at the proposal stage. Then a few months later boom, consultant comes back with “independent” evidence that everything is fine.

        Reasonable-sounding justifications for fiddling with models are easy to gin up and can see easily push results over or under statistical thresholds if you get to look at the data while you’re making them. Don’t take my word for it, try it here.
        https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/p-hacking/

        Will they actually do this? Who knows, but little would shock me. The union should insist at the start of the process that the dataset is sequestered somehow and nobody can or will look at it. And any analysis proposed along the way should be run and mentioned in the report, even if all sides agree on modifying it for the “final” proposal.

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        • Hippo says:

          “Statistical significance” and “p-hacking” all assume there is a well-defined model for noise and uncertainty in the data (such as sampling error). Beyond description statistics, I am not sure what use models are here. A census says whatever it says — unless you can make a credible case for modeling noise here, no need for fancy inferences. Although that never stops econometricians…

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          • adamsmith says:

            The question in most wage discrimination cases is what you do or don’t control for.

            Control for occupation and the gender wage gap goes to zero. Is that because females select occupations with flexible hours which pay less because they want flexibility, or is that because they are shut out from leadership occupations with big wage premiums or some combination of the two?

            For this wage analysis, what you do and don’t control for is pretty always pretty key.

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            • Hippo says:

              By “control for” I suppose you mean “throw into the right-hand side of some linear model”. If, after doing so, the fitted coefficient of gender is non-zero, or “statistically significant” (I’m sure we are untroubled with the modeling assumptions producing the standard errors spit out by your favorite software package) we are supposed to believe there is discrimination? Given the model inadequacies, and in particular an inability to verify the independence of any remaining error on the right-hand side, this is pretty weak thinking. Oh right, bring on the instrumental variables. LOL.

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            • jackmccoy says:

              What are instrumenting for? Is there a causal question we would need an instrument (before we even bring up if we can find one)? By bringing up IV in a place where its of no use you’re showing your own ignorance of wage decompositions and how they’re used in court cases involving discrimination. You can laugh at econometrics, but I’m laughing at how little you understand about the thing you’re mocking.

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  4. solidcitizen says:

    You should demand to be on the union committee. We want Bill! We want Bill!

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  5. Julian says:

    Am I the only person who noticed that the RFP requires that the final report is due by January 15, MMXVII? That’s a tight deadline even by my calendar.

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    • UO Matters says:

      Don’t consultants always write the final report before doing the analysis?

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