The Clarion-Ledger suffered from a serious bout of investigative journalism last weekend and published several stories about Mississippi government's addiction to no bid contracts. Reporters Emily Le Coz and Geoff Pender provided some rather interesting findings that deserve more attention:
State government spends billions of taxpayers' dollars — nearly $6.5 billion in the last four years — through "no-bid" contracts, with little oversight or transparency.
It's a system ripe for overspending, malfeasance and cronyism. And it's one that apparently allowed corruption to fester for years, with the head of the state prisons system allegedly taking $2 million in bribes to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts.
A Clarion-Ledger analysis of state records in the wake of that scandal discovered not only a lack of accurate data on no-bid agreements but numerous contracts with little or no explanation.
In all, the state appears to have awarded at least 3,370 no-bid contracts since 2010, according to records from the Department of Finance and Administration. The deals to spend state and federal taxpayer dollars with 1,807 companies and individuals who didn't competitively bid for the work are worth nearly $6.5 billion.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections, subject of a federal investigation and indictment of commissioner Chris Epps, who has since resigned, awarded the most expensive no-bid contracts: 19 for a total of $4 billion. The Department of Transportation was next with 126 no-bid deals worth up to $2 billion.....
Six dozen companies have no-bid deals worth $1 million or more. Among them are Management and Training Corp., a private prison company named in the federal bribery indictment, which had two contracts worth up to $2 billion.
The state awarded seven no-bid contracts worth $30 million to Ridgeland-based accounting firm Horne LLP and two worth $6.7 million to the law firm of former Attorney General Mike Moore, who is serving on a task force looking into MDOC contracts, to represent the state in litigation over the BP oil disaster..... Rest of article