Four years after California?s Department of General Services (DGS) ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to publicly post details on $4.1 billion worth of contracts, CDCR complied in late March 2007.
In 2003, DGS advised CDCR that it was required that all their contracts be entered into a computerized DGS library for posting on the internet. The release of CDCR?s database, even after four years? delay, did not come easily. The Associated Press complained that the state Justice Department had shielded hundreds of contracts as ?confidential.? That cover-up has been since scaled back under threat by lawmakers to withhold the agency?s money. Even the state Transportation Department used the ?confidential? label without DGS?s permission.
DGS warned state agencies in 2003 that they could lose authority to purchase goods if they failed to post all contracts and purchases over $5,000. But DGS never sanctioned CDCR for noncompliance. Even so, CDCR is withholding much data. 2,600 contracts worth $433 million are being kept confidential by the federally appointed medical receiver, Robert Sillen, under a legal exemption to ?safeguard competitive bidding practices.?
Sillen?s spokeswoman, Rachel Kagan, said that CDCR?s medical contracting was ?in a complete state of disarray.? Current bidding practices are designed to get prisoners ?care at competitive rates,? she stated.
But CDCR did release data on over 4,000 contracts plus thousands of purchase orders. Those now public expenditures, incurred from 2003 to 2007, totaled $4.1 billion. Some highlights include $100 million in substance abuse contracts with Center Point, Inc. of San Rafael, $400,000 for a Modesto funeral home for cremations, and $30 million to Industrial Waste Management to remove spent ammunition, oil and other hazardous waste.
Nonetheless, DGS isn?t sure of the degree of compliance it is getting from CDCR. ?It?s essentially an honor program,? spokesman Bill Branch conceded.
Source: Associated Press.
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