JEA Takes Steps to Ensure Lawful and Equitable Procurement Process


Jacksonville, FL -- After several months of strategic planning, on August 2, 2019 JEA issued Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) #127-19 for Strategic Alternatives pursuant to JEA’s Procurement Code and Section 21.09 of the City Charter and consistent with Florida Statutes Chapters 119 (public records), 286 (public meetings) and Chapter 112 Part III (ethics) and the Jacksonville Ethics Code (Code of Ordinances Chapter 602). An “invitation to negotiate” is one of several competitive government procurement methods. The purpose of public bidding is to ensure fair competition upon equal terms to all bidders to generate the best value for the citizens of Jacksonville.  

JEA announced today that on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 the utility requested the assistance of the State of Florida Commission on Ethics, requesting an advisory opinion on behalf of ITN 127-19 negotiation team members Melissa Dykes, Herschel Vinyard, Jordan Pope and Camille Lee-Johnson. The request, made by Lynne Rhode, Office of General Counsel and JEA Chief Legal Officer, was made out of an overabundance of caution and JEA’s desire to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Ms. Dykes is JEA’s President and Chief Operating Officer.  Mr. Vinyard serves as JEA’s Chief Administrative Officer. Mr. Pope serves as the Director of Economic Development and Real Estate. Ms. Lee-Johnson is a member of the JEA board of directors and is the current Chair of the Compensation Committee. She is not a JEA employee, and receives no compensation for being a member of the JEA board or for being on the negotiating team. Ms. Lee-Johnson will receive no benefit from any potential future transaction. 

“At issue is whether a prohibited conflict of interest arises under section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, for the ITN Negotiation Team Members as a result of the Employee Protection and Retention Program or Executive Employment Agreements that exist as part of the ITN process,” according to Ms. Rhode. “Also at issue is whether a voting conflict arises under section 112.3143(3)(a), Florida Statutes, in the case of a committee chair serving on the ITN Negotiation Team.”

Consistent with the terms of the JEA Procurement Code, Section 3.3.2 of the ITN calls for a minimum of three individuals to be appointed to the negotiation team. While not required to do so, JEA believes it is important to add Ms. Lee-Johnson as a fourth negotiator solely focused on employee related matters. Together, the four designees will ultimately develop a recommendation identifying the award representing the best overall value to JEA based on the selection criteria. That recommendation will be made to the JEA board of directors for their consideration.

“JEA has appointed the negotiations team members while stating on the record that the conflicts review by the OGC and Commission on Ethics is pending,” said Ms. Rhode, “Our initial analysis is that there is no conflict of interest however we look forward to the state level opinion being issued as soon as possible as we continue with the negotiations phase.”

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