Canyon County’s sole-source procurement will likely harm taxpayers, hinder innovation

Lindsay Atkinson Articles

Canyon County Commissioners will decide August 22 if All Detainment Solutions, a Missouri company, is the only source available to solve the county’s jail overcrowding. When a county determines only one company exists to meet a need they have, they can use sole-source procurement. In other words, the county doesn’t have to hear bids from other companies.

In this situation, granting a monopoly privilege to one company could cost Canyon County taxpayers thousands of unnecessarily lost dollars.

All Detainment Solutions is a company that offers temporary jail housing utilizing semi-trailers that fit together to form larger housing units. Canyon County wants to use this design for a temporary jail. However, relying on sole source procurement in order to quickly contract with this Missouri company hurts Idaho businesses.         

All Detainment Solutions (ADS) is part of a family of companies that do not have deep roots in the temporary jail industry. These companies began renting out tents, then they outfitted semi-trailers through a military contract, eventually merging to become Kelly & Company 1st Responders, which transformed semi-trailers into housing for emergency workers.

Temporary housing for emergency workers is different from temporary jail housing, but the transformation that the company went through gave it an innovative mindset. Thus, when competitive bidding opened for temporary jail housing solution for a Missouri jail in Greene County, ADS adapted their business to meet that need. They innovated in a way that successful businesses do in a free market.

Greene County finalized its temporary jail-housing lease with ADS August 17, 2017, just a year ago. The deal is based on a guaranteed use of ADS’s temporary housing for two years, with possible term extensions thereafter, for a total of six years. The contract’s first two years are set at $873,153 a year, roughly $22.15 a day per inmate. The third through fifth years are set at $833,727 a year, roughly $21.15 a day per inmate. The sixth year would be $794,313, or $20.15 a day per inmate.

Canyon County’s current estimate for an annual lease with ADS is $1,473,763. The cost per-inmate per-day would be $33.09.

This means that Canyon County taxpayers would needlessly be paying $10.94 more a day per inmate than Greene County taxpayers. For a total difference of $600,610 in the first year, when the difference between the two counties is only 14 inmates.  

Canyon County commissioners’ use of sole source procurement is a blatant mistake. The story of how All Detainment Solutions developed into a temporary jail housing company itself shows this. To declare ADS the sole-source provider would deny Canyon County the upper hand in contract negotiations. Greene County is paying significantly less than Canyon County is proposed to, under a contract they signed just a year ago. The difference can be attributed to the fact that Green County allowed competitive bids, also known as competition that drives businesses to offer the best deal.

To get the best deal for taxpayers, Canyon County commissioners should adopt a competitive-bidding process. If Greene County had not taken competitive bids just a year ago, ADS would not even exist as an option for Canyon County to consider now. ADS grew out of a company that was not in the temporary jail industry. It was the result of a company seeing a need in the community and adapting to best serve it. This could happen in Canyon County, Idaho just as easily as it happened in Greene County, Missouri. With the use of sole-source procurement, Idaho companies are missing that opportunity.