The state's chief procurement officer has 30 days to determine whether the process used to select the ski industry's marketing association to produce an annual winter travel planner for the Utah Travel Council was tainted.
At issue is whether state Travel Development Division Director Jay Woolley had a conflict of interest as one of three state officials who picked Ski Utah for the $60,000-plus project.Woolley serves on Ski Utah's marketing committee and is a non-voting member of the board of directors of Ski Utah's parent organization, the Utah Ski Association.
An attorney for Winborg & Winborg Advertising Inc. argued during a protest hearing requested by his client that Ski Utah should not have gotten the project because of its ties to Woolley.
"If not a clear conflict of interest, this presents a clear cozy relationship that is to be avoided," attorney Bruce Cohne said, citing statutes he said showed what Woolley did was against the law.
"I take offense to someone questioning my ethics," Woolley said during the 11/2-hour hearing. "I can tell you there has been no compensation, either implied or real, to me from the Ski Association."
Woolley also cited state statutes, arguing that he is required by law to participate in travel industry organizations as the state's top tourism official.
Ski Utah has produced a guide to the state's ski resorts every year since 1974, and the state has purchased copies annually to send to respondents to the Utah Travel Council's winter advertising campaign.
Proposals from other companies for the project were first sought three years ago after a local publisher asked to be considered. Ski Utah won the competition and was awarded a three-year contract.
Ski Utah had been chosen for the project again by a three-member that included Wooley.
However, the awarding of the project was halted after Winborg & Winborg filed a protest. State Procurement Officer Doug Richins must decide whether the committee was arbitrary and capricious or clearly erroneous in its decision.