- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Jindal administration says it’s changing an efficiency contract with New York consultants to require them to identify at least $500 million in savings for the state.

The firm of Alvarez & Marsal has agreed to add that provision to their contract, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a brief statement emailed Saturday.

“While we feel the current contract requires that $500 million in savings be identified, we will amend the contract out of an abundance of caution. … Not all the efficiencies will be pursued, but by identifying them now, we can work with the Legislature to determine what savings to pursue to free up resources to invest in critical priorities,” she wrote.

Her office did not immediately respond to an email Sunday asking how much money might be withheld if the requirement was not met.

Nichols said last week that the state could cut 15 percent of the payment if officials aren’t satisfied with the consultants’ suggestions. But she said she was confident Alvarez & Marsal would find far more than $4.2 million worth of savings.

The planned requirement is a good one but it might be better if the contract also required the consultants to make only suggestions that can be achieved, state Rep. Tim Burns, chairman of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, told The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1kNvu9y ).

“If you consolidated all the schools, that would save a lot of money. But can you do it?” he asked, adding that any changes requiring constitutional adjustments would be difficult.

Burns was among lawmakers criticizing the contract last week.

Several committee members objected to the cost, asked why the administration needed consultants for ideas, and asked what more Jindal expected to find after spending his five years in office repeatedly talking about a long list of efficiencies his administration has enacted.

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