The task force charged with reviewing the MDOC scandal and proposing reforms met this week and issued several preliminary recommendations to the way MDOC and other state agencies award contracts. The task force also proposed placing so-called "consultants" and "government affairs specialists" under the same rules lobbyists must follow. Some of the recommendations are posted below.
1. Terminate all MDOC contracts with remaining terms of longer than six months and which were not competitively bid or for which no alternative proposal was requested or received – including contracts for which no bid or RFP process was required under current law – and immediately commence competitive bid process to replace terminated services deemed essential to operations of MDOC or required by statute or court order.This is predictable. There is no way things are going to stay the same at MDOC. However, the task force recommended changing practices at other agencies:
2. Require contractual warranty and representation from each vendor entering a contract with a state agency that no consultant has been or is to be retained by the vendor in connection with the securing of the contract or the provision of goods or services under the contract, or fully identifying by name, services provided and fee paid and received each consultant retained by the vendor, in a manner similar to reporting requirements for lobbyists and lobbyists’ clients under Mississippi law.This is a huge reform. A dirty not-so-little secret at the state capitol is many so-called consultants are in reality lobbyists who don't register. They go by the names of consultants, marketing representatives, and government affairs specialists. It doesn't matter what they call themselves, as what they are doing is lobbying. Wining and dining legislators, seeking to influence legislation, lobbying state agencies over regulations, and lobbying same agencies for state contracts are activities that are considered lobbying. It's about time these so-called consultants and "government affairs specialists" were forced to register as lobbyists and report their activities.
4. Reconstitute Personal Service Contract Review Board as a five-member, independent board (similar to composition of ITS Board), members to be appointed by the Governor. At least three members should have experience as a corporate Chief Financial Officer or equivalent, hospital Chief Financial Officer or equivalent, and bank Chief Financial Officer or equivalent (to provide expertise in general business, healthcare, and finance arenas). Among first actions of new board should be a review of existing procurement rules and the development of recommendations for improvement.This is a step in the right direction. The board is composed of agency heads. The agency heads who are judging each other's procurement practices. Scratch my back......
5. Require all state agency contracts (or at least personal and professional service contracts) of $100,000 or more to be competitively bid. Severely limit emergency contracts.
Apply this to counties and cities as well. Hmmm.... will this recommendation apply to Supertalk?
6. Eliminate from statute all exemptions from the bid process for MDOC contracts.
11. Require appropriate state agency (e.g., Office of State Auditor or Ethics Commission) to conduct financial status reviews of state agency heads at least every four years, with potential problems reported to Attorney General for investigation.. Strengthen annual financial disclosure requirements for state agency heads.
Good recommendation. However, the recommendation might want to add an exemption from public records laws.
The task force also recommended charging PEER to take out the magnifying glass and review everything concerning private management of the Walnut Grove facility.
Kingfish note: Opinion? These are good reforms that are a step in the right direction.