Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MDOC task force: we need some more sunlight.

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.  


Anonymous said...

Good work. The Legislature needs to pass a bill implementing these measures as the first order of business.

Anonymous said...

This will never happen. These boys obviously don't know how things are done around here.

Anonymous said...

Scumbag consultants that influence government should be required to register as lobbyists and report their clients, fees, etc!

Anonymous said...

I predict a more cumbersome process that does no more to protect from corruption than the current process, thus making procurement more difficult for everyone who would do it the honest way anyway and still leaving gaping holes for corrupt people to exploit. Or I'm just old and cynical because I have never seen government actually solve a problem efficiently...

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:10, BUT I also agree with 8:16. Never happen.

Anonymous said...

If consultants must ply their trade in the daylight they will be forced to sell the planes,condos and expensive cars."Emergency contract" will have a new meaning. This would be a new Frontier for some if transparency becomes reality. 8:16 you are probably correct,probably never happen.

Anonymous said...

Will Stacy's "communications" consultant have to register under these recommendations?

Anonymous said...

Consultants Unite!!!! Hire a lobbyist to get this killed before it gets out of the show dog bipartisan committee. Have Scruggs call Moore! Call in all who owe you because of your political involvement and significant campaign financial support. Send in the drones for more money drops. Just do not let this get in the hands of Tater because he has a real hate for some of you and will make sure you can't leave home without his permission. He might even add an ankle bracelet requirement to the any new anticonsultant bill. Take action today because tomorrow could be to late.

Anonymous said...

Anything that can be done to help the State and other tax-funded entities use small businesses in its boundaries would be a step in the right direction.

What about State Legislators who are "consultants" in no particular profession? Its a neat way to get paid for influence.

Honor, of course, should not have to be law. Unfortunately, it has become the exception instead of the rule.

Anonymous said...

These recommendations are not on par with rocket science. Pheel didn't really need a concocted committee to bring this forward, just have those overpaid staff attorneys draft a bill and instruct his Republican servants in the Senate and House to pass the damn bill. Do you think the Dems will really fight it? Good Grief....

Anonymous said...

A little off the specific subject maybe but in the ball park - What's the word on Irb Benjamin?

I can't believe that a guy with roughly the same resume as McCrory, deep ties to Epps, and suspiciously timed resignations in the Mississippi prison industry is not somehow a part of this story.

Anonymous said...

Will any of the real Gunslingers, e.g., Tater, Gunn, Feel, really relinquish any powers?

Kingfish said...

There is one major reform that is left out of these proposals: Subcontractors.

The new trick is to have another company get the contract, and then the ones that draw scrutiny come underneath them as subs so no one sees the connection nor how much the sub gets paid.

Anonymous said...

KF, I was thinking the exact same thing just the other day. Minority contracting is done the same way.

SOLD to the man in the red hat said...

Does anyone out there believe there will ever NOT be a way to get ahold of the rainbow-pot of money? When the committees and consultants tell us how to plug one loophole, those same ones will tell others where three more exist. And all of us will pay them for their advice.

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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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Trollfest '07

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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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