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Will OPEGA be Allowed to Stop Waste and Fraud?

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Will State Government ever stop fraud and waste in Privatization?
August 16, 2009.

As State Government seeks to enrich private interests with no concern for the taxpayer, public officials in other State and local governments are seeing outsourced contracts bleeding red ink and are starting to review “good old boy” contracts that have been in place for years.

Maine government has always been ready to settle for the quick fix. They have waited until times are desperate, rather than planning ahead.

Our governors and legislators on both sides of the aisle have always been ready to fall back on blaming State employees as too expensive while seeking the cover of downsizing State Government and claiming contractors can perform public services “better, cheaper, and faster.”

The well hidden facts show that this is very often so much cow flop. The justification for privatizing government services is becoming harder sell as more and more examples of waste are shown. On the National level the examples include abuses by federal contractors such as Halliburton and Blackwater in Iraq.

How many dead Marines were killed due to faulty showers turned into electrified death chambers?

On the interstate our rest areas are closed. Except where State Employees work, the interstate looks like a scene from a disaster movie.Contractors paint their trucks the same color as State trucks, buy their employees the same uniforms, then when they “lean on shovels” a State employee is blamed.

In Maine we outsourced the grass cutting on the interstate. When the costs for State employees to cut grass was figured, the State costs were figured based on weekly cutting from May 1 through Labor day. When the so called cheaper bid was given out the contractors were only required to cut the grass two times during the season.

This contract has never been reevaluated. Millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars are going to mostly one Augusta landlord while State buildings remain empty and the legislators are being urged to tear down the remaining buildings and rent from Eddie G. In the mean time the state study on the cost of rental space has been suspended since 2008.(Check the link to OPEGA)

The Maine Revenue Service pays private contractors to collect taxes and then lets them skim some of the funds, all the while paying more for the services than the cost of hiring State employees.

State IT hires contractors to do services that could be provided by State employees by withholding training funds for State employees in order to claim that we have no one able to perform the services.

.The real costs of privatization must be exposed. 911, Fire Departments, State Police, Motor Vehicles, in many places the profit motive does not support the the public good.

In the name of public service, some State and local agencies are limiting privatization: ยท The Metrolink commuter rail agency in Los Angeles voted to stop outsourcing and hire its own train crews, after a crash killed 25 people.

There are rising cries for Audits of State contracts. Last week, OPEGA, ( The Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability) called for a thorough review of State contracts to determine where services might be less expensively provided by State employees.

Citizens are not being served, State offices are closed, our budget is put in danger by privatization and it’s only to enrich a few at a huge cost to the taxpayers.

Legislators, perhaps looking to their own retirement as consultants are trying to outsource many functions, rest areas closed or outsourced, grass cutting on the interstate where it is looking like a wheat field, not a road.

Last year the Levinson center in Bangor was outsourced to save twelve cents a day.

OPEGA suspended

Employees lost pay and benefits in order to enrich a corporation and save $512.00 a year. The bidding process alone probably ate up a hundred years of the so called savings.

We must demand that our government works for all Mainers, and tax dollars are no longer flushed down the toilet by government contracts. The need to end waste, fraud and abuse in government contracting demands legislation be passed to ensure:

Ensure that jobs that should be done by government are performed by State employees. Agencies would be required to identify those jobs performed by contractors, review the costs and bring all jobs back in house that can be performed at the same or lower costs.

All contracts must consider the loss of revenue to the State for any contract bid that would send substantial dollars out of State.

We lose tax revenue, and we lose good jobs for Mainers by paying out of State and even off shore contractors. Considering this loss of revenue would bring many more jobs in reach of State government or to other Maine employers.

Agencies must be required to provide inventories of all contracts and to track costs and performance.

Require agencies to determine whether there are or will be staffing shortages and develop plans to address them.

Require that all contract costs be made public and that all terms of any outsourced conract be based on the same work being performed by State government.

Direct the Administration to make long-overdue reforms, as suggested by OPEGA, (The Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability)
to contracting out policies and reviews.

Suspend all contracting out that would result in the loss of any State jobs until all the reforms have been made across the government.

Until then, check out how much has not been done, how many dollars are in limbo because the studies have been suspended (cost to rent buildings for one)
how much more we need to do?

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August 17th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Maine, Maine State Employees, Privatization, State Government, outsourcing | no comments

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