Governor Delays Contracting Standards
Hartford, CT, April 22, 2010 – State public service workers are urging the State Contracting Standards Board (SCSB) to take concrete steps toward establishing long overdue safeguards for taxpayer dollars and greater protection of public safety and health.
Members of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 and Council 4 AFSCME are also calling on Governor M. Jodi Rell and the state legislature to support the board's efforts the same day its members met for the first time since being reconstituted by the "clean contracting" law in 2007.
"Citizens only need to read recent news accounts to understand the importance of the work the board is mandated to perform," said John Vitale, a leasing property agent in the Department of Transportation's Office of Rights of Way. "Recent news about the Carlyle Group's service plaza contract demonstrates what little oversight there currently is. If the Contracting Standards Board had been active last year, more could have been learned about this 35-year, multi-million dollar deal before it was too late," said Vitale, the President of the Council in CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 which represents engineers, inspectors, and planners in the DOT.
The "Clean Contracting" law passed in 2007 created the reconstituted board, and the legislature intended it would begin work in 2009 reviewing contracting policies. On January 1 of this year, the statute granted the SCSB new oversight authority to perform a cost benefit analysis of proposed projects. During that time, Governor Rell delayed her appointments to the board and proposed cutting the funding necessary to support its efforts.
"The governor and legislature need to understand that this board has the ability to save taxpayers money," said Roberta Price, an administrative assistant in the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services' Southeast Connecticut Mental Health Authority. "But it's about more than that. Providing the board the resources needed to do its work will not only ensure that precious state dollars are well spent, but that citizens' health and safety are protected," said Price, the President of Local 610 in Council 4 AFSCME, which represents state administrative-clerical employees in southeastern Connecticut.
Members of both unions are calling on the governor to aid the efforts of the board and increase transparency in contracting-out. They are proposing all Executive Branch contracts receive prior approval in the same manner as required for State workers' out of state travel and that their scope of work be posted at the governor's website one week prior to their execution.
Currently, the law requires state contracts to be posted on the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) procurement portal website, which is both cumbersome and difficult to navigate. Requiring the governor to post Executive Branch contracts on her web page will provide for public scrutiny and review in an easy to use and transparent manner.
Members of both unions also call upon the legislature to restore funding for the State Contracting Standards Board to allow for the assignment of staff to assist with performance of cost benefit analyses and business case justifications of all new, renewed, or modified contracts. Contracts have been awarded without a thorough review that could determine if indeed taxpayers are getting the best value for the services performed.