A&M can withhold consultant’s report under competitive bidding exception, AG rules

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Texas A&M University officials may withhold a consultant’s report on its food services operations, the state Attorney General’s office has ruled.

The ruling is the latest development in the tug of war between Texas A&M officials and The (Bryan-College Station) Eagle over the release of documents that would shed light on the school’s push to privatize dining services.

The report does not have to be released until after a contract is finalized, the AG’s office wrote in the open records letter ruling. The AG agreed with Texas A&M officials that providing the report would put the university at a disadvantage in negotiating the particulars of the deal.

The school has consistently rebuffed the Eagle’s efforts to provide a glimpse of the privatization efforts:

Administrators are requesting an attorney general’s ruling on virtually all public records requests filed for information regarding the much-criticized privatization effort, arguing that release of the information would constitute a competitive disadvantage.

The Eagle has filed several records requests, including for the bids from the companies and emails from key players such as A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, the chief proponent of the plan.

University officials declined to even release a list of the names of the people on the committees that are evaluating the proposals.

University administrators are considering privatizing four service areas: dining, landscaping, custodial services and building maintenance.

Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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