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BATON ROUGE (CNS)—The deadline for proposals (RFP) officially passed as of close of business last Wednesday (July 31) and oral interviews of potential bidders is set for Aug. 14 for the consolidation of the information technology (IT) departments of some 20 departments within the state’s Executive Branch. http://wwwprd1.doa.louisiana.gov/OSP/LaPAC/agency/pdf/5479100.pdf

The Division of Administration (DOA), which issued the RFP, is tentatively scheduled to announce the awarding of the multi-million dollar contract on Aug. 16 with work on the contract set to begin on Aug. 30 even as more and more horror stories surface about experiences of potential bidders/contractors with similar projects in other states.

Meanwhile, in an apparent effort to at least project an appearance of propriety with efforts to avoid any conflict of interest and to head off another possible CNSI public relations disaster sent out a pretty interesting email to all DOA section heads and the Council of Information Services Directors.

The “conflict of interest advisory,” a one-page memorandum from Richard “Dickie” Howze, interim state chief information officer, cautioned state employees against any contact with vendors, potential proposers or subcontractors regarding the RFP.

The IT consolidation contract could rival that of the $200 million CNSI contract which the state cancelled after a federal investigation was launched into the manner in which the contract was awarded. Former Department of Health and Hospitals Director Bruce Greenstein had previously worked for CNSI but told legislators he had built a “firewall” between himself and the contract selection process. That turned out to be false as documents subpoenaed by legislators revealed hundreds of emails and telephone conversations between Greenstein and CNSI officials during the selection process.

It was also learned that Greenstein had tweaked the contract requirements so that CNSI might qualify to bid on the Medicaid claims processing contract. He resigned in March shortly after the Jindal administration cancelled the CNSI contract but was allowed to remain on the job for nearly a month.

Greenstein’s name recently resurfaced. Now residing in Seattle, where he was living when first hired by Jindal, he was spotted at a July 8 dinner meeting in a Shreveport restaurant with Steve Skrivanos, board chairman of Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana. One report also placed foundation President and CEO Dr. John George in that meeting though Dr. George has denied that he was present.

Unconfirmed rumors surfaced that Jindal directed the foundation and LSU Medical Center officials to find Greenstein a job while the investigation in Baton Rouge was ongoing.

“The Division of Administration, Office of Information Technology (OIT) staff has been working on the development and release of (an RFP) for Information Technology Planning and Management Support Services,” the DOA memorandum of July 19 said.

“OIT has engaged the participation of the Council of Information Services Directors (CISD) for technical support in this endeavor and may request the support of other sections within the DOA throughout the process. OIT has gone to great lengths to maintain strict contact requirements to ensure all vendors have equal access and standardized information.

“Suring this procurement process it is crucial that you and your staff do not have any contact with vendors who are potential proposers or who may be part of a proposal as a subcontractor regarding this RFP or other related RFPs. If you work with a contractor who is a potential proposer, there shall be no private communications, discussion of the upcoming process, timelines, RFP content, evaluation or award,” the memo said.

“Additionally, it is not appropriate for any current state employee to provide a reference for a vendor responding to this procurement. These restrictions will remain in effect until the contract(s) has been awarded and the protest period has past (sic). Please ensure that your staff are (sic) made fully aware of these requirements. Anyone failing to follow this policy may face disciplinary action, up and including termination.”

Wow. Too bad that memo was not made available to Greenstein during the awarding of the DHH Medicaid claims processing contract.

Now, perhaps someone should send a similar note to the folks up at Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport.

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