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Monday, October 19, 2009

Holmes delivers contract to Riley, asks him not to sign it

The chairman of a legislative panel that held up an almost $13 million no-bid contract for 45 days delivered the document to the office of Gov. Bob Riley on Monday and asked him not to sign it.
The legislative contract review committee can hold up a contract for 45 days, but cannot stop it. Monday was the last day that the committee could delay the contract.
Riley is expected to sign the amended contract with Paragon Source LLC, but will review it first, according to his spokesman.
The chairman of the committee, state Rep. Alvin Holmes, talked to the media Monday before walking the contract to the Capitol to personally deliver it. Security told Holmes the governor was not available, although Holmes said he had been told he could meet with Riley.
Acting Finance Director Bill Newton then came out and, after a brief curt exchange with Holmes, took the contract from him.
While Holmes was ranting to the media about the situation outside of the office, Riley staffers invited the longtime legislator through security. They offered for him to meet with Riley, but Holmes said he was not coming in without the media.
Riley, a Republican, left through another door for a meeting without talking to Holmes, but his staff said he could meet with Holmes later in the afternoon.
Holmes, D-Montgomery, also released to the media the list of people paid through the contract. The state has already paid more than $5.5 million to the company through a contract that expired last month. The contract currently before Riley was an amendment to extend that agreement for two years and bring the total to $12.9 million.
The original contract was for $1.45 million.
The legislative panel approved the previous contracts.
Todd Stacy, press secretary for Riley, questioned why lawmakers approved the previous agreements, but are fighting the amendment.
"No one has ever called into question the product and the work that this company has done," he said. "In fact, by all accounts, they have performed exceptionally. ... If (Holmes) has a complaint about the work product, I haven't heard it."
Some of the documents released by Holmes on Monday show some people were paid up to $43,000 in a month and some of those same people received more than $20,000 a month for months at a time.
"There is no description of the work these individuals did for this money," Holmes said.
He also said the information does not include who the subcontractors paid so there is no indication of who all was receiving money through the contract.
Stacy said the finance department has turned over every document it has on the Paragon contract to the committee.
"The Department of Finance cannot produce a document out of thin air because Rep. Holmes wants it," he said.
One person who was paid through the contract was Sandra Porter, who was the administrative assistant to former Deputy Finance Director Andy Hornsby.
Stacy said Porter was paid through the contract and did not receive a separate salary from the state.
According to the documents, Porter was paid $50 an hour with totals of up to $6,680 a month. Her last check was for work in October 2008, which is when Hornsby retired from the finance department. Other people received as much as $220 an hour for consulting.
Holmes and members of his committee voted to issue subpoenas earlier this month to Newton and to Janet Lauderdale, the president of Paragon, after they felt they did not receive information they requested.
Newton and Lauderdale's attorney delivered documents to Holmes, but he said they raise more questions because there is not information on who was paid by the subcontractors.
Holmes and other members of the committee have expressed concerns about awarding a $13 million, no-bid computer consulting contract to a company with no Web site and no listed phone number while the company lists personal residences as its headquarters in Virginia and in a subdivision in east Montgomery.
Holmes said he has not accused anybody of wrongdoing.
Riley spokesmen have said Paragon personnel have worked for the state since the early 1990s, have institutional knowledge and are equipped to help the state revamp the computer system it uses for financial functions including payroll and purchasing.
Paragon has mapped out a blueprint to overhaul the computer system in the state and the amended contract would include money to follow through and to help the state prepare for any audit of the money it received as part of the federal stimulus package.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The contract Paragon has with the State should prohibit them from competing for the contract to actually overhaul the state's mainframe/ERP system once they complete the blueprint (that's normal to ensure fair competition). So if this extension is to actually conduct that overhaul, then it's a way for the state to award the work to them and bypass that non-compete clause. If it's for separate work then it's just a scope modification.

October 19, 2009 at 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If those consultants, which are likely highly specialized, had to travel into Montgomery from other locations, then those rates probably include lodging, travel, meals, etc. Also, if they are independent consultants, then those rates are fully loaded, meaning they also contain the "employer portion" for taxes and benefits. That generally takes up 55% or more of an hourly billing rate after the travel and lodging expenses are taken out. So, $220/hour might actually only be $90/hour to the consultant depending on those other factors.

October 19, 2009 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, no email, no phone, no business address, and no web presence is inexcusable for a technology consulting company in the 21st century. Especially with revenues in the millions. $10/month will get all of that from two dozen separate providers on the internet.

And... how can the state possible justify awarding this to a company like that, when the state budget is in proration and school budgets have been slashed so much that parents are having to support the schools with teacher supplies in addition to their childrens materials???!!!!

This isn't a Republican or Democrat thing. This is a common sense, and common decency thing... Apparently Riley has neither.

He better keep in mind what his legacy to the State will be, and pray that none of his family members are involved in this whole contract episode with Paragon, or he could wind up bunking with Siegleman.

October 19, 2009 at 10:54 PM  

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