- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A state audit finds more than half of Louisiana’s state contracts with outside entities do not have to be approved by a centralized authority in state government - totaling nearly $6.2 billion in taxpayer dollars.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1bM7WyD ) the Office of State Procurement, within the Division of Administration, oversees thousands of contracts that state agencies enter into but many more are delegated out.

In all, the audit found the state had at least 14,693 contracts worth about $21 billion as of November.

OSP director Paul Holmes, in responding to the audit’s findings, defended the delegation of contract approval, noting that the office has the right to audit any contract and agencies file quarterly reports on contracts.

“OSP … stands ready to increase its ability and capacity to track and account for other state contracts which do not currently fall within its purview, if and when statutory authority to do so is extended,” he wrote.

But state Treasurer John Kennedy said the audit raises alarms and that the current system doesn’t provide for a central database for the public to keep track of contracts.

The audit notes that 4,599 contracts totaling about $278.6 million were delegated out and would not show up in a centralized system.

“This confirms my worst fears,” he said. “Not only do we have too many contracts, but we’re hiding from the public the number of consultants we’re hiring. It’s time to completely reform the way contracts are handled in state government.”

A state lawmaker has proposed legislation this session that would change the state contract process.

House Bill 30, sponsored by state Rep. Dee Richard, would give the Legislature more control over contracts. It has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee but has not had a hearing.

The legislative session ends June 11.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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