San Francisco's much-heralded "social justice" requirements for city contracts are costing local taxpayers millions of dollars a year in overcharges, according to workers in departments ranging from the Municipal Transportation Agency to the Department of Emergency Management.
In one case, a Muni worker said the city paid $3,000 for a vehicle battery tray. Such parts can be found online for $12 to $300, depending on the type of vehicle. City officials said they couldn't verify that purchase, saying the trays are usually bought in bulk with the battery.
Other city purchasing policies, if followed, would mean paying about $240 for getting a copy of a key that actually cost a worker $1.35 to get done at a hardware store on his break, the employee said. Another city worker called the use of catalog pricing for supplies "Pentagon-style purchasing."
Markups from approved vendors range from 10 to 150 percent, employees said, with one calling the city's requirement that contractors provide health care benefits for domestic partners "the expensive white elephant standing in the middle of the room (that) no one wants to mention."
Some vendors are suspected of being little more than middlemen who comply with San Francisco's very specific requirements for contractors - like disclosing historic ties to slavery and providing domestic partner benefits, a provision known as 12B because of its chapter in the Administrative Code - then turn around and buy the products from companies that don't meet the restrictions, city officials acknowledge.
San Francisco values, indeed.