Lawmakers aim to fix broken state contract system
The Michigan House Democrats introduced a package of bills today aimed at enforcing accountability and transparency in the state contract process. The legislation was introduced following several reports of fraud and abuse by Aramark, a private company under contract with the state to provide food services in Michigan prisons.
“My colleagues and I have been working hard to come up with legislation that will end the practice of giving state contracts to the lowest bidder, regardless of performance,” said House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Fred Durhal (D-Detroit). “I am proud that we were able to introduce these bills on the floor today, and I look forward to getting them passed.”
Aramark took over food services less than a year ago, but in that time has already amassed a catalog of safety violations, food shortages, record fines and even murder for hire ? because of its shoddy business practices. Aramark’s dismal performance in Michigan was preceded by similar negative results in Florida, Kentucky and Ohio, with Florida finally terminating its contract with Aramark.
“This is not the first time House Democrats have introduced legislation to fix the broken policies enacted by the Republican majority governing state contracts,” said Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio), member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Action is long overdue by the Legislature to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.”
There are seven bills in the legislative package. The package includes:
• HB 5889 (Faris) – Requires state agencies to submit a detailed cost-benefit analysis to the House and Senate Appropriations committees before seeking approval from the Civil Service Commission for privatization that replaces state employees.
• HB 5890 (Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon) – Requires a state agency to submit a detailed economic impact study to the House and Senate Appropriations committees before seeking approval from the Civil Service Commission for privatization. The impact study would look at estimated effects on the local community where the privatization would occur.
• HB 5891 (Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette) – Requires state contracts to include metrics and parameters that vendors must meet, and allows the state to cancel contracts if the vendor fails to do so.
• HB 5892 (Rep. Andrew J. Kandrevas, D-Southgate) – States that if a state agency enters into a contract that exceeds $500,000 in any year, the contract shall require that the vendor provide records related to the performance of the governmental function to the appropriate state agency.
• House Bill 5893 (Durhal) – Adds “the number of full-time jobs and part-time jobs and the wage rate for those jobs that will be maintained or created with the expenditure of state funds” to a list of current requirements state agencies must provide to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).
• HB 5894 (Rep. Woodrow Stanley, D-Flint) – Provides that state contracts will not be awarded automatic renewal.
• HB 5895 (Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing) – Forbids a vendor from participating in the bid process, or from being awarded a contract, unless it is in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.
“Michigan taxpayers should be able to trust us with their hard-earned dollars,” said Kandrevas, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “It is our duty as legislators to ensure there are solid policies in place when it comes to awarding state-funded contracts.”
Appropriations Committee member Singh added, “All of the bills in this package were carefully thought out, and they will all contribute to the wise spending of taxpayer dollars. As they make their way through the legislative process, I will be working hard alongside my colleagues to see that the bills are passed and signed into law.”
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I’m State Representative Fred Durhal Jr., and I serve Michigan’s 5th House District.
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State Representative Fred Durhal Jr.
5th House District