Wagner: Pa. has too many no-bid contracts
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HARRISBURG -- Auditor General Jack Wagner today called on Gov.-elect Tom Corbett and the new Legislature to stop allowing state contracts to be awarded without competitive bidding.
"The commonwealth's contracting process urgently needs structural reform," he said.
Improvement could save at least $200 million annually, Mr. Wagner said, although he lacked data to show exactly how.
He said $200 million is a conservative estimate and that it amounts to 5 percent of the $4 billion the state spends on contracts each year.
In the past 18 months, the state awarded 511 sole-source contracts and 272 emergency contracts, Mr. Wagner said.
"The more competition you have, the more ideas you're going to have," and the better the deal will be for taxpayers, he said during a press conference this afternoon.
His comments were in stark contrast to statements offered Thursday by outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell.
Mr. Rendell said bidding is overrated. He said companies that perform well should be rewarded by having their contracts renewed without competition from other providers.
Mr. Wagner comes at the issue from a different viewpoint.
"Competition is the American way. I totally disagree with the governor," he said.
Like Mr. Wagner, a Democrat, Senate Republicans are concerned about no-bid contracts and believe the Rendell administration has relied on them too much, spokesman Erik Arneson said. Caucus leaders have been considering changes to the procurement system and are hoping to see them implemented during the Corbett administration, he said.
Mr. Wagner acknowledged that emergencies sometimes call for contracts to be awarded quickly and without competitive bids, but he said those occasions are rare, or should be. Instead, he said, agencies routinely create emergencies by failing to plan properly.
Bidding processes are bypassed far too often, he said.
Spokesmen for Mr. Corbett and for House leaders were not immediately available.
First Published January 11, 2011 3:10 pm