The “Emergency Contract” drops (like a lead balloon)

In case you weren’t aware PennDOT dropped an “Emergency Contract” today, 07/02/2020, with a due date of 08/31/2020 and a termination date of 12/31/2020.

  • If you were an Instructor hoping to go back to work, good luck.
  • If you had been urgently calling your legislators to get the program back on track you’ve likely gotten used to the sense of abandonment long before this point.
  • If you had been counting on your Motorcycle Rights organization to fight for you, keep holding your breath.
  • If you were waiting for PennDOT to let you know what is going on, oops.
  • But… if you are a dealer with a training range you might just be back in business…

After meeting with different parties, including those representing area dealers, other programs and organization, the PennDOT “Third Party – Motorcycle Safety Training Program” RFP (here) is a [dealer-biased] temporary workaround to attempt to meet the statutory requirements PennDOT violated when they abruptly terminated the previous contract earlier this year, placing the beleaguered program into disarray yet again.

The 18 page RFP, with 5 Appendix, essentially invites those with staff, facilities, insurance, customer service, etc. to make individual bids to provide PAMSP program services – with a catch. Each must have been in their location for 2 or more years, bring it’s own curricula (which must be licensed from a 3rd party & approved by PennDOT), their own training facilities, on-site training staff, site administration, storage as well as their own vehicles and/or ways to service them (if they can borrow them from PennDOT). These providers will pay all costs, to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth…

Basically what was once managed by a small Administrative staff in Harrisburg under a single contract with a single curricula and a single training and QA staff will now be created over and over again at select locations across PA. A massive duplication of labor, lack of consistent standards, costs, class offerings, oversight, curricula, information management, fleet maintenance, and no attention paid to equity of training access or availability. For just around 3 months…

If PennDOT thought managing a single contract provider was complicated wait until they’re managing multiple contracts from multiple vendors with multiple curricula, multiple pay schedules, etc…

For students this should be really interesting as some locations simply won’t have training (once again) and who know what their classes will even be like when they get there – there are a few major curricula to chose from…

Nothing in the contract mentions when sites can start due to COVID, what measures they must take in order to resume and/or continue operations. A consideration must also be made by sites for the liability they may incur by running their own program at their physical location. While sites are indemnified by PA law, without consistent standards, QA, etc. it’s going to be much easier to prosecute Instructors who may or may not be teaching curricula appropriately.

If you’re an Instructor good luck trying to find a location to teach. Remember the locked down sites of the past? They are likely to have returned again in full force and now there will be even fewer locations to choose from. Now you’ll all have to wait to see what happens for next year – which you’re likely to learn via the Internet as well. “Instructors are the Program” is something we’ve all heard time and time again. The Program is the Program, Instructors are simply pawns in that game.

We’ll have more on the contract as time goes by, and more information on next year once that RFP hits (again, don’t expect any prior information). Who knows – the current model may just be the model moving forward in 2021.

The sad part is that none of this was necessary. The Program was up and running for 2020, had suspended operations for COVID and was poised to re-open as soon as it was able – fully staffed, fully supported, fully scheduled.

Now PennDOT is scrambling to cover the problems they created; politicians – some of whom were “so upset that PennDOT usurped their authority” – have done absolutely nothing other than ignore repeated calls; the training, accounting & oversight so frequently “demanded” of PennDOT to protect motorcyclists “Rights” has been tossed aside once again; and special interests will have an opportunity to BYOP (Build Your Own Program) for 3 months – as long as COVID permits them to start.

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