Colorado awards contract for evaluation of emergency management division

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State officials selected a Colorado-based consulting firm to conduct a workplace assessment of culture within the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management following a allegations of aggressive and unprofessional behavior by its manager.

On Thursday, Research Evaluation Consulting was awarded a $35,000 contract to conduct the survey, according to state solicitation documents.

Annette Shtivelband, founder of Research Evaluation Consulting, said in an email that she had received an “intent to award” notification but no contract had yet been signed. She declined to comment further.

In its bid for the contract, Shtivelband estimated that the assessment would take 200 hours to complete, billed at $175 per hour. The state has received other offers, reaching nearly $500,000, according to an offer tabulation document obtained by the Denver Post via an open records request.

Research Evaluation Consulting, on its website, says it works with nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies.

“Our assessment services can help you track your results, assess how well your programs and services are working, identify areas for growth and improvement, and make a greater impact in the communities you serve,” indicates the website.

The state issued a notice of solicitation of outside vendors on July 25, the same day a Denver Post investigation found Mike Willis, director of the state’s Office of Emergency Management, had been twice suspended. in the past 18 months for bullying employees, scolding colleagues and throwing objects in anger.

The Post’s investigation found that Willis had been warned that his actions could attract state liability. Kevin Klein, who heads the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which houses the Office of Emergency Management, warned Willis after his last suspension this spring that any further incidents could result in his firing.

The workplace assessment, state officials wrote last week, will include what the state called an “environmental scan” of “overall employee satisfaction.” It did not mention any individual by name.

The external vendor must conduct interviews, review “overall operational health,” and make recommendations to “improve the culture and structure of the division.”

Gov. Jared Polis made his first public comments on the Willis behavior report on Wednesday, but declined to answer questions about when he learned of the issues with his director of emergency management.

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