Am I Being Too Optimistic…

… or does it seem as if things are starting to roll, just a bit:

Denouncing as “outrageous” the 145.99-percent markup the state has been paying a private company to staff the traffic-monitoring center across the street from the State House, Governor Carcieri yesterday initiated an inquiry into “all state contracts that involve the retention of professional services.”
He also announced that the company, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, had agreed after a telephone call yesterday from state transportation director Jerome Williams to slash its overhead-and-profit rate to 22.5 percent for those among the 36 workers doing largely “administrative” tasks — including the “typist” for whom the state had been paying the company the equivalent of $102,858.
Saying he was unaware of the VHB staffing contract until it was brought to light by The Providence Journal this week, Carcieri said he has now asked Gerald Aubin, the former deputy Providence police chief who heads the state Lottery, to lead a task force charged with finding out whether any other “similarly outrageous arrangements might exist in other departments of state government.”
The governor said he had asked Aubin “to review all these contracts to determine if the state is paying similar overhead rates in any other instance, to compile a comprehensive list of these contracts and their costs, and to determine what, if any, work would better be performed by state employees.”

Not to assume too much about a man whom I don’t know, but I get the impression of faux cluelessness from this:

Asked yesterday for comment on Carcieri calling for an investigation of professional-services contracts, Sen. J. Michael Lenihan, the East Greenwich Democrat leading the Senate inquiry, said:: “Well quite honestly, it’s an absurd situation. It merits investigation.
“I guess my question is, whatever the role of the federal government in terms of mandating this kind of thing, didn’t somebody have the common sense somewhere along the line to say — ‘Wait a minute. This is absurd.’ — and call it into question. Apparently that didn’t happen.”

It didn’t happen because government employees in Rhode Island — including those whom we elect — see their role as ruling the state, not representing the interests of its citizens. The real question is whether enough of those citizens will wake up before too many flee to avert catastrophe.i

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Andrew
14 years ago

What good is all this “oversight” the Senate is doing if they’re missing stuff like this until Katerine Gregg points it out?
Could it be that there’s merit to the Governor’s charge that the Senate is interested mainly in impeding the day-to-day operations of the administration, rather than in discovering anything useful?

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

I see this as being one of two situations.
Either someone in the Department of Transportation knew what they were paying and allowed it to happend–in which case they should be fired for poor management.
Or no one in DOT knew what they were paying–in which case they should be fired for incompetence.
My guess is that someone knew. After all, someone had to know in order to leak the story to the Projo.
But I bet nobody gets fired for the mismanagment. Most of the state workers in the executive agencies were there well before Carcieri took office and they’ll be there on the day Carcieri leaves office.
I’d say that the biggest reason for the limited success of Carcieri’s policies is the reluctance of the bureaucrats working in the executive agencies to implement them.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

For someone with such antipathy toward unions, Carcieri’s bloating of the payroll in this fashion is just unconscionable. And I suspect this goes on with the aquiescence of Montalbano, who has his own ethical problems.
Different parties, but part of the same hypocrisy.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

Rhody,
There is a difference. The activities of certain public sector unions have led to a situation where government employees get paid more than there private sector counterparts. Still they want more. Carcieri has attempted to bring this spending in line with the real world.
Unlike the unions that have no problem taking all they can get, Carcieri is trying to clamp down. Carcieri’s problem is that many bureaucrats either don’t share his dedication to reducing administrative expenses or are incompetent at doing so.
The last DOT director spent his entire life as a government bureaucrat until he decided to retire last year.
The Projo now says that the issue of the staffing contract will be addressed by the “new” DOT director and the head of the Lottery Commission.
Well, the “new” director has been there for 6 months. According to the Projo, he doesn’t know whether or not other DOT contracts are paying out at the same rate, a higher rate or a lower rate. Doesn’t that seem odd?
At what point do you stop making excuses by implicitly referring to someone as “new” and start saying “I’m going to hold my people accountable for their performance or lack of performance”?
Why is the head of the Lottery Commission investigating whether DOT and other agencies are overpaying on contracts? Shouldn’t a department director be able to do this themself? If they’re not able to do this, why do they have the job to begin with?!?
Onto the General Assembly. As Andrew points out, what has the General Assembly been doing about this? We’ve all come to expect it from the legislature, but where are the messages from House and Senate leadership saying that sweetheart deals like the records storage contract won’t be tolerated?

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

The unions didn’t hire these clowns who contract jobs out at much cost to the taxpayers. Carcieri did. There’s plenty of blame to go around, and the good ‘ol boys in the General Assembly have done plenty to enable this mess, too.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fiscal Fitness is giving us Old Stone Redux.

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