Shady State Contracts and the Need for Transparency

Auditor General Jack Wagner reprimanded the Department of General Services for their failure to execute and oversee state contracts. Since 2003 a large number of contracts have not been competitively bid including, emergency contracts totaling $678 million and no-bid contracts worth $1.1 billion. No numbers on change orders could be secured (change orders alter the details of a contract often increasing the final bill).

When asked a DGS spokesman admitted they could not, “produce overall figures on project changes in state agency contracts that cost millions of extra dollars.” But wait, it gets better. . .

“Figures for no-bid and emergency contracts since 2002-03 show a decrease in the number and dollar value of contracts. But, said Rep. Douglas Reichley of Allentown, the House Republican Caucus’ point man on procurement issues, it is “sort of fallacious” to claim no-bid contracts are decreasing when there are no corresponding figures for change orders to show actual final costs.

Reichley said bidders can compete by understating bids, knowing payments later will be inflated through change orders.”

So not only do we not know how much change orders are costing- they are being used to disguise the true cost of projects. Taxpayers cannot hold their government accountable if they don’t have timely information. If the state has no idea how much their spending on these change contracts how is the average taxpayer suppose to know?

The DGS said tallying the total cost, “would require extensive coordination with all agencies and take considerable time to compile, at best”.

This is why we need a public database with all state spending easily searchable and available 24/7, legislation like HB 1880 would create such a resource.