California government agencies use no-bid contracts to rip you off

It didn’t take long for the cost of a technology contract in California’s unemployment office to increase twelvefold.

Two changes to the contract – added without bidding – swelled the deal to $8 million within a year. Then, the Employment Development Department submitted a request to add another $2 million worth of work to the arrangement without soliciting new bids from other companies.

That project is one of nine that State Auditor Elaine Howle highlighted in a new report released on Tuesday that urges California government to be more cautious in awarding high-value contracts without seeking competitive bids.

The report estimates that the state spent $44 billion on noncompetitive contracts worth $1 million or more between 2011 and 2016, a substantial sum that auditors said underscored the need for better management.

“The sheer magnitude of the value of the state’s noncompetitive contracts during this period emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the state provides adequate oversight of agencies’ contracting practices,” the report says.

State rules allow departments to award contracts without bidding in emergencies and under other special circumstances. But Howle’s auditors found that the state departments in charge of monitoring spending – the Department of General Services and the Department of Technology – have missed opportunities to challenge requests for noncompetitive contracts, failed to ensure that contract databases have accurate information and rarely disciplined other government agencies for misusing noncompetitive contracts.

Source: The Sacramento Bee

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