- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Two Oklahoma businesses say they’re frustrated after being excluded from bidding on a state human services department contract that’s potentially worth millions.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services recently awarded Youth Villages a contract to provide high-intensity, therapy-based services for children, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1qRRpQp ) reported.

The state agency initially passed over the Tennessee-based company last year when its $95 per-day per-child bid came in higher than NorthCare in Oklahoma City and Family & Children’s Services of Tulsa.

But it later awarded Youth Villages a contract in August without competitive bidding. DHS Director Ed Lake said the contract was issued without competitive bidding because the firm’s program is highly regarded and the George Kaiser Family Foundation and other private partners were willing to pay 58 percent of the cost.

The initial contract is for one year, but it can be renewed for two years. The state department expects to pay more than $1.8 million over three years. Private groups have agreed to pay the rest of the estimated $4 million total cost.

“Our perspective is this is a very big win for the department and for taxpayers that the Kaiser foundation is willing to put its money into some of these efforts,” Lake said.

But Gail Lapidus of Family & Children’s Services said her organization could have done the work for half the price. CEO Randy Tate of NorthCare added he believes his organization and Family & Children’s Services are capable of doing the work awarded to Youth Villages.

Lake said even if the Oklahoma organizations could have underbid Youth Villages, he doubts they could have done so enough to offset the 58 percent subsidy offered by private groups.

Executive Director Ken Levit of the Kaiser Foundation said its officials wanted Youth Villages brought to the state because they think it’s the best in its field in providing care to abused and neglected children. But he also noted the Kaiser foundation didn’t insist on a sole source contract.

Connie White Mills, public relations manager for Youth Villages, said what makes its program different is the lengths it goes to track the children it’s helped and monitors how successful it’s been in helping children stay in their homes.


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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