Scrutiny of state purchasing, contracting practices sought

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 10 on a bill that would require an evaluation of Nebraska Department of Administrative Services procurement practices.

Sen. John Arch
Sen. John Arch

LB1037, introduced by Sen. John Arch of La Vista, would require an outside consultant to review all DAS procedures with an emphasis on due diligence, cost evaluation, decision-making accountability and protest procedures.

The bill also would require DAS to submit a report to the Legislature and governor by Nov. 15.

Arch said the bill grew out of DAS’s selection of St. Francis Ministries in 2019 to manage child welfare cases in the Eastern Service Area. It later was revealed that St. Francis had underbid the contract significantly causing it to come back to the state for additional funding.

The state ended the contract with St. Francis one year earlier than planned and is taking over case management in the Eastern Service Area.

Arch was a member of a special legislative committee created to review the St. Francis procurement process. The committee learned of other state contracts during the past 15 years that also raised questions, he said.

“It’s not the same individual involved in the decision-making, so we obviously turned our thoughts to the process of procurement,” Arch said. “It’s a large issue.”

DAS Director Jason Jackson testified in support of LB1037. He said the bill would help improve the department’s procedures.

“LB1037 is a welcome opportunity to look at legal reforms and engage in evaluation of our procurement process to yield better procurement results,” Jackson said.

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took immediate action.

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