State lawmakers push for tougher reviews on private contracts

State lawmakers push for tougher reviews on private contracts

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State lawmakers want an auditor to review large scale contracts that involve private companies before they get approved. Representative Kenny Havard of St. Francisville has pushed this bill more than once.

He believes it could save the state millions of dollars. He said everyone is on board, except Governor Bobby Jindal.

Representative Havard is fighting what some would consider, a losing battle.

"This is the third year I've run the bill," Havard said.

Lawmakers know it as House Bill 137, the Privatization Review Act, which would require the state legislative auditor to review contracts costing over $5 million that involve replacing state workers. Havard said not having that process in place has cost the

state significantly.

"The Charity Hospital System was supposed to cost us $600 million when I first got here three years ago. Now we're well over $1.2 billion and there were 50 blank pages in the contract, and we approved that contract," Havard said.

Representative Havard has managed to get the bill through the House, twice before, without objection. But it failed before State Finance Committee. He blames Governor Jindal, who has lobbied against the legislation.

"I've reached out to the Governor's office to see if there's anything we can do to work on this bill together or maybe take some of the sting out of it. There's nothing about it they like. They don't want transparency," Havard said.

The Governor's Assistant Commissioner of Administration, Tom Groves, said before the House Appropriations Committee on Monday, Havard's bill is too vague and would drive up the cost of government for taxpayers.

"The bill does not read as a transparency bill but rather an expansion of government. The RFP process and civil service protection for state workers, that's already an abundance of oversight that ensures appropriate contracting procedures," Groves said.

But Representative Jack Montoucet of Crowley and his colleagues would not hear it.

"If the Governor is in opposition of the bill, maybe the governor, because he's an elected official, he needs to come sit at that table," Montoucet told Groves.

The bill goes next to the joint budget committee for review. A date for that hearing has not been set.

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