It appears that Ski Utah will publish the winter travel planner for the state after all, despite conflict-of-interest allegations against Utah's director of travel development made by an unsuccessful bidder.
A contract worth $60,000 is expected to be awarded to the ski industry's marketing organization Monday, based on the unanimous recommendation of the second selection panel to review the three bids received for the project.Ski Utah had been picked for the project last month, but state purchasing officials canceled the contract after an unsuccessful bidder filed a formal protest claiming a member of the first selection panel was biased.
Winborg & Winborg Advertising Inc. said Travel Development Division Director Jay Woolley had a conflict of interest serving on that panel because he holds positions with Ski Utah and the Utah Ski Association.
Woolley is a non-voting member of the board of directors of the Utah Ski Association and sits on a committee of the association's marketing arm, Ski Utah.
An attorney general's opinion released Tuesday found that Woolley is not violating the state ethics laws but cautioned him that his involvement with the industry organizations may go beyond his job description.
As a result of a hearing held on the protest, the state's chief procurement officer, Douglas Richins, ruled that the bids received for the project had to be re-evaluated by a new selection panel.
That panel met last week and unanimously chose Ski Utah to print the winter travel planner over Winborg & Winborg and Morrison Printing of Tennessee, Richins said.
The contract cannot be awarded until Monday to give the unsuccessful bidders a chance to file a protest. Jim Winborg, president of the advertising agency, said in a written statement Wednesday he would not challenge the decision.
"We believe this committee was again just going through the motions, but we are not willing to spend more time and money to support this claim," Winborg said in his statement.
Some 125,000 of the winter travel planners, which include detailed information on most ski resorts, are expected to be purchased this year to send to would-be visitors who respond to the state's winter advertising campaign.
Ski Utah has been publishing and distributing winter travel planners since 1974. Until a local publisher expressed interest in the project, the state did not seek bids from other companies before purchasing copies.
When the project went to bid for the first time three years ago, Ski Utah bested its competition and was awarded a three-year contract. This year's contract will also be for three years.