Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CL: No bid contracts flourish in state government.

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


Anonymous said...

Not all "no-bid" contracts are bullshit.

In my opinion they need to eliminate sole source exceptions to the bid law and start scrutinizing "emergency" purchases more.

But if you expect agencies to start bidding out engineering services, accounting/auditing services, architecture, etc.- there's always going to be some firm who will come in low bid and do a half ass job. Lowest is not always best when it comes to personal service work.

Anonymous said...

Dept. of Transportation? They have enough money to run those "cute" do not litter campaigns and ads featuring the 3 highway commissioners. Is this a way to campaign on TV at the states expense? Why not try a novel idea and spend that money on road maintenance to the lowest bidders.

Anonymous said...

Mike Moore made his millions in the tobacco lawsuit. His cousin was the head lawyer who had a no-bid contract. After all was over he had more money than he knew what to do with.

Anonymous said...

the legislature is shocked. they never knew any of this was going on. Yeah Right.

Anonymous said...

I have been here 15 years and Jackson MS area news services are the worst for investigative journalism I have ever seen. This is unusual to see this story. KF is excluded from my complaints.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi is the most corrupt state in the union. Mississippi has the dumbest set of leaders it has ever had. We probably need to quit trying. We're just making it worse.

Anonymous said...

This post has been online for over three hours and nobody has mentioned the Frontier boys. What is wrong with you people?

Anonymous said...

The sad fact is that the righteous auditor Stacy "no-bid" Pickering participates in the contracting orgy as much as those he is supposed to monitor.

Anonymous said...

It is against Federal law to bid out engineering and architectural services for projects with Federal funding. The CL also has some "sole source" contracts for MDOT with railroads that are contracts using Federal pass through money for work on crossings for those railroads. The railroads wouldn't allow some other railroad to work on their crossings. They also show Supplemental Agreements to existing engineering contracts as if they were new no-bid or sole source contracts. They should have said what method the original contracts were procured under. I would be willing to bet they went through a RFP.

While I agree that sole-source or no-bid contracts could be used wrongly, the CL might should have dug a little deeper into the contracts before using such a wide brush but that wouldn't have had the impact that they were after.

Anonymous said...

Emergency constitutes no-bid. What is an emergency? Life and death or just lazy burecrats that use the threat of emergency if we do not do something asap.

This is usually poor management on their part.

If you cannot write bid specs or RFP then we do not need it.

Get real. Taxpayers are Dummies.

We just keep reelecting them. Lets vote them out.

Anonymous said...

Great job CL

Keep the heat on.

We need details on the validity of contracts.

Great news for an election year.

Anonymous said...

8:24- I agree!!!! The CL article mentioned the crooks. You won't get Feeellll (aka Deputy Dog) to say anything about them because they are lining his pockets. Need anyone forget that Josh Gregory's best man in his wedding was Feeellll. Were they long time friends? Oh, heavens no! They're at least 2 decades between them. They're friends because Frontiers pays Feeellll off. It's simple-KF has reported on it before. They (Frontiers & Josh Gregory) came on the scene with Barbour. They fed off him until he was old news & jumped on Feeeellll (like a fat tick on a coon dog). Now they get many lucrative state AND private contracts simply because they pay Feelll off. NOTHING gets approved by Feeeellll unless Josh & Company at Frontiers approve it. How does that happen? Throw Frontiers a contract. They sub-contract it out because they aren't capable of writing a press release. They take a % and give Feeellll a %. Eventually the dumba-- legislators will act on this. At least the Democratic Party could do something about it! Uggghh. MS politics are crooked. Don't hurt the state agencies that are trying to help people (some actually are), go after these fat cats!

Anonymous said...

What about the lt gov's no bid contract for a certain employee in his office that also works for a certain major law firm in the state.

Anonymous said...

The only thing the legislators are shocked about is their names aren't in the article! I've worked in state government for years. It's not uncommon at all to get a phone call & be told you've got to give business to a particular company. The absolute worst with this you may ask? Minority companies! You are told that you must give business to these companies or risk the black caucus (just a darker version of the Klan) getting crossways with your agency. Who will jump up and scream & point fingers when this is talked about come January---our elected officials who do this everyday. It's an election year. They'll make lots of commotion about this because they want the idiots...Uggghh..I mean constituents back home to know they are fighting for their rights and by rights I mean the right to carry a gun, pray in school, hate on gays, and get rid of abortions. I digress...

Anonymous said...

Lynn Fitch is next - understand the Feds are interested in one contract Fitch has entered into over the last two years.

Anonymous said...

This is all so pitiful! KF has exposed this many times and nobody seems to care. How about this, I'll bet anybidy reading this that Phil goes to work for Frontier when he leaves office. Also, Fitch SHOULD be next but like Stacey it's mostly low level. They BOTH live out of their campaign accounts! Yes, live out of it. Take a peep (it's all online) and let them try and explain "expense reimbursement". Fitch doesn't even try to mask it, she pays her Reunion HOA dues with campaign dough. But since she is finished politically, who really cares.

Anonymous said...

I would bet that the Frontier Strategies owners are glad this story is in the CL because now the public can see they are not the only people working their money maker, which in their case is the very personal relationship with the governor.I would guess the unspoken agreement between the people who give and receive these types of contract deals is simple. A certain amount of the money is given back in the form of campaign contributions or in other ways like the use of an airplane,bus or condo.There are many ways one can pay for a contract and it is being done in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I do a fair amount of contracting work with state agencies. The purchasing laws are fine but ineffective like nearly all other similar laws. They may keep someone from easily being fraudulent, however they do so at the expense of making it hard for agencies to get what they need and they won't stop someone who is malicious and creative. I have seen cases where what would be a non-emergency (=go get what you need in a timely manner to fix the problem) be an emergency for a state agency because the timing of getting the normal process done would be a serious problem. Anybody who hasn't lived it shouldn't be passing too much judgement on it. Making state purchasing rules even more restrictive only means that it will be more inefficient. Staffing and funding the audit function and preventing corruption there would pay more dividends.

Anonymous said...

10:28 gets it.

The system needs to overhauled. Not just procurement laws but also SPB and ITS. It is impossible to forecast what you need 12 to 18 months out when federal and state laws and regulations change yearly.

And it takes a long time to get procurement through those ineffective, regulatory agencies.

Anonymous said...

I want every one of you posting on here to realize that just like building a house, buying a car, educating your children all things come with a price tag. Going to an ALL Bid program would only mean that we are getting the cheapest deal out their. Cheaper is not better. Stop and think about it. If you think the state has problems now imagine the caliber of people that would be doing the consulting for the state if professional services were bid. Yes we have kinks to work out, but it's damn better than some of the talk on here about bidding. You get what you pay for!

Anonymous said...

The MHP has reported that no deaths occurred over the Christmas holiday due to auto accidents on Mississippi roads. This great news was accomplished without a million dollar emergency contract given to anyone just to remind everyone to "click it or ticket". We are all shocked for sure.

Anonymous said...

To the contrary, they have evidently been paying someone for the "Buzzed driving is drunk driving" campaign.

Anonymous said...

11:25 you are correct but this was not accomplished with a no bid emergency contract like last year. This year's safety campaign appears to be better quality work.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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