As a city councilman, Mayor Nutter authored path-breaking legislation requiring more competition and disclosure in the award of city consulting contracts. And during the mayor's race, he promised a new openness in city contracting - pledging to award "no-bid contracts as infrequently as possible."

But earlier this year, the Managing Director's Office quietly granted a no-bid $275,500 contract for technology consulting on the 3-1-1 non-emergency call-center project to a firm that already was under contract with the city, offering no opportunity for other firms to compete for the work.

While the process was technically legal, the administration has decided to reverse course and issue an open request for proposals for the rest of the 3-1-1 project.

Gartner Inc., an international technology-consulting firm, will be paid for work it has performed and can bid for the rest of the work.

"I think it's the right thing to do," Nutter said yesterday. "This is in line with what I've stated consistently through my time in City Council, my time as a candidate and now as mayor of the city."

Nutter said that he was told about the situation within the past two weeks, at which point plans to put out a new bid were already under way.

Asked if anyone had been reprimanded for making the original deal without requesting proposals, Nutter said: "We've had a series of discussions with the folks in the managing director's office, many of whom are new. It's really about reviewing and training."

Fast-tracking the 3-1-1 project has been a top priority of the Nutter administration. Under the supervision of Managing Director Camille Barnett, the city has promised to have it in service by the end of the year.

Gartner Inc. has been under contract with the mayor's Office of Information Services for more than a year. It has worked with other cities on 3-1-1 projects.

In March, Gartner submitted a proposal to work with the city on 3-1-1, aiding with the planning and strategy for the project. That proposal was for $275,500. It also proposed a new contract to the Office of Information Services, for $139,600.

In April, the city inked a deal with Gartner, pledging a total of $415,350. The fact that Gartner's original contract had been amended was posted on the city Web site, as required in Nutter's 2005 legislation, but with scant detail.

Press Secretary Doug Oliver said Gartner's 3-1-1 contract would be amended to cover only the work it has done thus far - so it will be paid just under $200,000. Its separate contract with the Office of Information Services will continue.

The request for new bids will go out in about a week, Oliver said. *