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Monday, May 4, 2015

Wasted days and wasted contracts: guess the state

This story may, or hopefully may not, sound familiar to you, wherever you are. 

Guess the state. It, and the link to this story (the whole story; more than appears here), will be revealed at the end.

The Investigators: Is there waste in [this State's] government contracts?
From designing traffic patterns to funding services for people with disabilities, the state negotiates and operates thousands of personal, professional and governmental service contracts and agreements.

According to the State Transparency and Accountability database in the state's Office of Contractual Review, there are 12,457 total current contracts and agreements. Administration representatives said the database may list duplicates or expired contracts and the actual total number is 6,173.

State Treasurer John Kennedy said the number is much higher and he believes there are more that go unreported. "I'm not saying that all consultants are bad," Kennedy said. "Some of them do add value, but we have way, way, way too many of them who don't."

Kennedy said the state wastes millions of dollars in unnecessary contracts and agreements. "Every dollar we spend on a consultant is a dollar less we have to spend on our universities, roads and on coastal restoration," Kennedy explained. Kennedy believes while the state may have made some reductions, there are still too many that waste money.

"Contract 672113 - this is with a California consultant 'to provide assistance to students to learn valuable social skills through organized play on their recess and lunch periods.' Most kids don't have problems with recess or lunch. They don't need a consultant from California to help them," Kennedy said. The contract, which was worth $94,000, expired in 2009.

Government contract 734975 to the University of Tennessee, which is worth $189,000, is listed as "monitoring the state Black Bear population; continued health of the population, monitoring adult female survival and continue hair-snare work in the Texas and Upper Atchafalaya population." Personal contract 734230, which is worth $258,000, is listed as to "supervise, restore and mount the Albrizio Mosaic Mural and deliver it to the Capitol Park Museum." There was also consulting contract 730926, which is worth $3.4 million, to a company called BBR Creative. It's listed to "provide assistance in developing and executing a strategic marking and communication program for LED."

When taxpayers were shown some of the contracts, they said they weren't surprised. "They say they don't have any money, then why have a consultant if you can't build a bridge?" asked Ronald Rome. "They hire all of these consultants and they all say the same thing and nothing gets done." "All you need in the state to get a contract is to know somebody and that's just not right," Kennedy added.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said there are regulations, checks and balances in the contracting process and it's all overseen by the state's Office of Contractual Review.

In 2014, a bill to tighten the regulations on how state contracts are awarded passed the legislature unanimously, but it was vetoed by the Governor. This session, there are at least two bills that bring contract regulations back to the table and legislators hope that now, in a different financial situation, the governor has a change of mind.
The State? Louisiana. The article link? The Investigators: Is there waste in Louisiana government contracts?

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