Jamie Giellis says her mayoral administration would build a bigger buffer between government and corporations

Responding to the Colorado Convention Center scandal, the candidate says big projects should be managed in-house, but there’s a reason Denver outsources.

Jamie Giellis speaks at City Park Friends and Neighbors' second mayoral candidate forum at Messiah Lutheran Church, Dec. 4, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Jamie Giellis speaks at City Park Friends and Neighbors' second mayoral candidate forum at Messiah Lutheran Church, Dec. 4, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

If elected mayor, Jamie Giellis says she would dramatically curb the amount of work outsourced to private companies to build taxpayer-funded projects.

In an email to reporters Friday, the candidate said she would create more distance between the city and its contractors by managing projects in-house because outsourcing them “creates close relationships to our elected officials in city government,” Giellis said.

If the city needed more staffers to manage projects, Giellis said she would hire more city employees. The important thing, she said in an interview, is to eliminate the middle man.

“I think if there aren’t enough staff and resources, you would get a better return on your investment by having it done by bringing in additional support staffers,” Giellis said.

Her stance was precipitated by the Hancock administration’s expansion of the Colorado Convention Center, a project that’s been troubled by alleged collusion between project manager Trammel Crow and Mortenson, a potential contractor that might have interfered with the bidding process. Hancock’s office canceled the contract with the company, which is being investigated by the district attorney, the Denver Post reports.

Denver doesn’t farm out management for “everyday” work, said Denver Public Works spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn. But there’s a reason Denver contracts with private companies to manage huge projects.

“Denver utilizes program management services for large, complex programs to augment staff capacity and expertise,” Kuhn said. “It’s not an approach utilized for everyday projects and work. For complex programs, though, it’s considered an industry best practice.”

The city began awarding contracts for project management in the ’90s, Kuhn estimates.

The issue is not just fiscal, but ethical, according to Giellis.

“Hiring outside corporations to do this work creates close relationships to our elected officials in city government,” she said.

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