Councillor David Maher

Councillor David Maher presides amiably over a Tuesday meeting of the City Council’s Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee focused on a city manager search process. (Photo: John Hawkinson)

Three firms have submitted proposals to run the executive recruitment search for a new city manager, the city’s Purchasing Department announced Thursday. The firms are GovHR USA, of Northbrook, Ill.; the Novak Consulting Group, of Cincinnati; and Randi Frank Consulting, of Wallingford, Conn. A fourth firm, Buckland Consulting, of Shelburne, Vt., submitted a proposal that “could not be considered.”

040716i city manager search firmThe firms’ proposals will not be public until the city’s evaluation committee has finished its process, sometime this month. The three firms come from a pool of 55 who were solicited or expressed interest before Thursday’s deadline, though Frank’s was not on that list.

The evaluation committee includes three city staff members and four city councillors: Dennis Carlone, Jan Devereux, Craig Kelley, and Marc McGovern. The committee will rank the three proposals according to a detailed set of criteria that was published in the city’s Request for Proposals.

Purchasing Agent Amy Witts did not respond to an inquiry Thursday about Buckland’s disqualification, but responding to an RFP requires carefully following the purchasing procedures as well as meeting a series of minimum requirements.

Committee expands

The City Council’s Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee met Tuesday to discuss the search process, focusing on the composition of the “preliminary screening committee,” which will receive a list of about eight candidates from the search consultant and narrow it to three finalists through interviews. Unlike previous meetings about the search, the meeting was recorded and livestreamed by the city.

Councillor and chairman David Maher repeated again that he had been advised that a screening committee larger than 12 members would become difficult to manage. But he proposed a committee half again as large – 18 members: four city councillors, the maximum allowed by law; three residents; two business representatives; one from the school district; one from the police or fire departments; one person knowledgeable about municipal finance; one human services or public health representative; one with experience in city planning; one from higher education; one for public art or open space; one affordable housing advocate; and one nonprofit community representative.

The council did not discuss the large size of the screening committee, but Mayor E. Denise Simmons strongly requested the committee include a representative of the “interfaith community.” The council obliged and voted to add a 19th member.

The council also expanded the scope of the school district slot, changing it from one School Committee representative to be either a committee member or a senior member of the schools department – though not the incoming superintendent. Kenneth Salim starts work July 1, replacing Jeffrey Young, after a similar search process run by Maher late last year.

After the meeting, councillor Jan Devereux suggested the four City Council members on the screening committee should be chosen by random draw; she formalized that proposal in a letter to councillors on this coming Monday’s council agenda. Devereux said Monday that she was not aware of her membership on the evaluation committee when she submitted her letter, though it would not have changed her position.


This article was updated Monday to add the City Council members named to the evaluation committee.