In a state drowning in consulting contracts, what’s one more?
Bobby Jindal is a lame duck governor who long ago set his sights on bigger and better things. He has abdicated every aspect of his office except the salary, free housing and state police security that go with the title. In reality, he has turned the reins of state government over to subordinates who are equally distracted in exploring their own future employment prospects.
His only concerns in almost eight years in office, besides setting himself up to run for President, have been (a) appointing generous campaign donors to positions on state boards and commissions and (b) privatizing state agencies by handing them over to political supporters.
To that end there has been a proliferation of consulting contracts during the Jindal years. The legislative auditor reported in May that there were 19,000 state contracts totaling more than $21 billion.
So as his term enters its final months and as Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols has less than a month before moving on to do for Ochsner Health System what she’s done for the state, what’s another $500,000?
LouisianaVoice has learned that Nichols signed off on a $497,000 contract with ComPsych Corp. and its affiliate, FMLASource, Inc. of Chicago, to administer the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) program. FMLA CONTRACT
It is no small irony that Nichols signed off on the contract on May 19, less than two weeks after the legislative auditor’s report of May 6 which was highly critical of the manner in which contracts are issued with little or no oversight.
The latest contract removes the responsibility for approving FMLA for state employees and hands it over to yet another private contractor.
Apparently FMLA was just one more thing the Jindal administration has determined state employees are incapable of administering—even though they have done so since the act was approved by Congress in 1993.
Because no state employees stand to lose their jobs over this latest move, the contract would seem to simply be another consulting contract doled out by the administration, obligating the state to more unnecessary expenditures.
Whether it’s farming out the Office of Risk Management, Office of Group Benefits, funding voucher and charter schools, or implementing prison or hospital privatization—it’s obvious that Jindal has been following the game plan of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to the letter. That plan calls for privatizing virtually every facet of state government. If you don’t think the repeated cuts to higher education and health care were calculated moves toward ALEC’s goals, think again.
The contract runs from May 17, 2015 through May 16, 2016, and the state agreed to pay FMLAServices $1.45 per state employee per month up to the yearly maximum of $497,222.
Agencies for which FMLAServices will administer FMLA include the:
- Division of Administration;
- Department of Economic Development;
- Department of Corrections;
- Department of Public Safety;
- Office of Juvenile Justice;
- Department of Health and Hospitals;
- Department of Children and Family Services;
- Department of Revenue;
- Department of Transportation and Development.
The legislative auditor’s report noted that there is really no way of accurately tracking the number or amount of state contracts. STATE CONTRACTS AUDIT REPORT
“As of November 2014, Louisiana had at least 14,693 active contracts totaling approximately $21.3 billion in CFMS. However, CFMS, which is used by OCR to track and monitor Executive Branch agency contract information, does not contain every state contract.
“Although CFMS, which is a part of the Integrated Statewide Information System (ISIS), tracks most contracts, primarily Executive Branch agencies use this system. For example, Louisiana State University obtained its own procurement tracking system within the last year, and most state regulatory boards and commissions do not use CFMS (Contract Financial Management System). As a result, there is no centralized database where legislators and other stakeholders can easily determine the actual number and dollar amount of all state contracts. Therefore, the total number and dollar amount of existing state contracts as of November 2014 could be much higher.”
The audit report also said:
- State law (R.S. 39:1490) requires that OCR (Office of Contractual Review) adopt rules and regulations for the procurement, management, control, and disposition of all professional, personal, consulting, and social services contracts required by state agencies. According to OCR, it reviews these types of contracts for appropriateness of contract terms and language, signature authorities, evidence of funding and compliance with applicable laws, regulations, executive orders, and policies. OCR also reviews agencies’ procurement processes against competitive solicitation requirements of law. The contracting entity is responsible for justifying the need for the contract and conducting a cost-benefit analysis if required.
- However, state law does not require that a centralized entity approve all state contracts.
- According to the CFMS User Guide, OCR is only required to approve seven of the 20 possible contract types in CFMS. The remaining 13 types accounted for 8,068 contracts totaling approximately $6.2 billion as of November 2014. Exhibit 2 lists the 20 types of contracts in
- CFMS and whether or not OCR is required to approve each type, including the total number and dollar amount of these contracts.
- In fiscal year 2014, 72 agencies approved 4,599 contracts totaling more than $278 million.
The Office of Contractual Review was since been merged with the Office of State Procurement last Jan. 1.