Library groups call for inquiry after Carillion collapse

Source: Natasha Onwuemezi, The Bookseller, January 17, 2018

Libraries body CILIP has called for a public inquiry to investigate whether the government knowingly issued contracts for the delivery of public services to a failing company following the collapse of Carillion. The government services provider has gone into liquidation after losing money on big contracts and running up huge debts of around £1.5bn, putting thousands of jobs at risk across multiple sectors. Carillion has run several public library services since 2013, including Hounslow, Ealing, Croydon and Harrow. Hounslow terminated its contract with Carillion last August and on Tuesday (15th January), Croydon Council stepped in to “secure the long-term future” of all its libraries and “guarantee the jobs of library staff” by taking the running of its library service back in house. However, the councils of Ealing and Harrow have told The Bookseller they have not as yet terminated their contracts with Carillion. …

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Croydon libraries to be run by the council again to ‘protect jobs’ after Carillion collapse
Source: Andy Datson, Croyden Advertiser, January 15, 2018

Croydon Council has announced it “intends” to terminate its contract with troubled contractor Carillion and that it will take back control of running libraries across the borough, “protecting” jobs in the process. Construction giant Carillion announced on Monday (January 15) that it is to go into liquidation, putting thousands of jobs at risk across multiple sectors…..

Now Carillion remove home library service from the disabled
Source: Inside Cryodon, November 20, 2017

Carillion, the building company which runs Croydon’s public libraries, has been accused of “blatant discrimination” against the disabled over plans to withdraw the home library service from January 1, something described as a “disgraceful and stupid decision”…..

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Detroit Medical Center service workers seek new contract, decry “penny-pinching”

Source: Sarah Cwiek, Michigan Radio, January 21, 2018
 
The Detroit Medical Center is still trying to reach a new contract with some unionized workers at its five Detroit hospitals, after service and maintenance workers overwhelmingly rejected a tentative contract agreement earlier this month.  Those workers, who range from janitorial staff to equipment technicians, say the first deal offered by the DMC’s for-profit owner, Tenet Health Care, was simply “inadequate.”  “They want to give us about a 30-cent wage increase, and yet they’re increasing our insurance premiums anywhere from 24-39%. And so basically, we’re just falling backward,” said Donna Stern, a Children’s Hospital of Michigan employee and a unit chair with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 140. …

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DMC Surgery Hospital remains closed; housekeeping outsourcing nearly settled
Source: Jay Greene, Crain’s Detroit Business, January 22, 2015

Detroit Medical Center’s Surgery Hospital in Madison Heights is still closed more than six months after a torrential rain flooded it along with much of Southeast Michigan. DMC officials still haven’t decided what to do with the shuttered hospital in which all the employees have either been laid off or transferred within the eight-hospital system. …. On DMC’s plan to outsource its environmental services department to Sodexo USA, Conrad Mallett Jr., DMC’s chief administrative officer, told Crain’s that negotiations are moving steadily and a final resolution is expected by Feb. 1. …. In October, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn ruled that DMC needed to engage in arbitration with the housekeepers union – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 – before it signed a contract with Sodexo.

DMC workers protest hospital’s plan to outsource job
Source: Holly Fournier, The Detroit News, October 27, 2014

About 70 employees of the Detroit Medical Center’s environmental services department rallied Monday to protest the hospital’s plan to outsource housekeeping jobs to a company called Sodexo. Their protest came moments before a 3-hour hearing Monday in Detroit’s federal court to address the hospital’s plan. The hearing continues with oral arguments Wednesday morning.

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Opinion: Future bright for Maui’s privatized hospitals

Source: Joe Kent, The Maui News, January 21, 2018
 
One of the biggest savings will likely come from control over labor costs. Previously, the hospitals were left out of negotiations with their union employees; instead, such talks were handled at the state level. Now the Maui Health System can, for the first time, negotiate directly with the United Public Workers and Hawaii Government Employees Association unions. This is expected to result in better use of the hospital staffs and a big cost savings. …

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Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria Contract Spending Revisited

Source: Project on Government Oversight, January 8, 2018

Back in October, the Project On Government Oversight did a top-level analysis of federal government spending on Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria recovery contracts, as reported by the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). The FPDS spreadsheets contain a wealth of data that allow the public to track billions of dollars in federal contract expenditures in precise detail: the agency awarding the money, the amount, the purpose, and the recipient. At that time, the government had spent a total of $1.65 billion on contracts. However, FPDS imposes a 90-day delay on the release of Department of Defense (DoD) data, so we were missing a big piece of the spending puzzle. Now, DoD numbers are starting to trickle in and we are getting a more complete picture of federal contracting outlays for the recovery efforts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The federal contract award total now stands at $3.3 billion: $1.2 billion for Harvey$726 million for Irma, and $1.4 billion for Maria. … Federal expenditures on Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria contracts have now surpassed the $3 billion spent for Hurricane Sandy and are steadily approaching the $20 billion total for Hurricane Katrina. As the total grows, so too will the misuse of those funds. To that end, POGO plans to release a database that will track all federal spending relating to Hurricane Harvey. …

City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing

Source: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, January 15, 2018

Municipal broadband networks generally offer cheaper entry-level prices than private Internet providers, and the city-run networks also make it easier for customers to find out the real price of service, a new study from Harvard University researchers found. Researchers collected advertised prices for entry-level broadband plans—those meeting the federal standard of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds—offered by 40 community-owned ISPs and compared them to advertised prices from private competitors. The report by researchers at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard doesn’t provide a complete picture of municipal vs. private pricing. But that’s largely because data about private ISPs’ prices is often more difficult to get than information about municipal network pricing, the report says. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks. This fight includes pushing legislators to draft anti-municipal broadband state laws, lobbying against local ballot initiatives, and filing lawsuits against cities that build their own networks. …

Editorial: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

Source: Editorial Board, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 14, 2018

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military or prisons, are not part of federal or state governments, Medicaid pays for the care of 62 percent of all nursing home patients, amounting to $55 billion in 2015. … In a remarkable story published Dec. 31, Kaiser Health News reported that the owners of nearly three-quarters of the 15,600 nursing homes in the United States buy a wide variety of goods and services from companies in which they have a financial interest or control. Nursing home owners can rent the land to themselves at above-market rates, or own the staffing company that provides nursing care and management. These business dealings, known as related-party transactions, offer efficiencies that can hold down costs and help minimize taxes. … In the nursing home industry, however, with its reliance on taxpayer dollars, related-party transactions can also encourage insider dealing, maximizing profits for the outside vendors while siphoning off funds needed for patient care and staffing. If a nursing home gives a no-bid contract for, say, linen services, to a firm controlled by the nursing home’s owners, it often pays inflated prices. … For nursing home owners, a complex web of related-party transactions can offer a shield against lawsuits or governments seeking restitution for Medicaid overpayments. This is outrageous. …

Council unanimously votes to take back library operations

Source: Andrew Clark, The Signal, January 9, 2018

Santa Clarita decided to take back full control of its library system Tuesday evening. The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to end a contract with Library Systems and Services, LLC, and independently operate and staff the Santa Clarita Public Library system. … he move looks to save the city about $400,000 in what would be the city’s first fiscal year of operations. The decision comes nearly seven years after the city pulled the libraries out of the county system and contracted with Library Systems and Services to operate and staff libraries in Newhall, Valencia and Canyon Country. City documents noted the city initially had success with LSSI as library hours were expanded and the annual budget for books and materials was increased, but the company’s performance has declined in recent years. …

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Privatization–and Pushback–Proceed in Santa Clarita
Source: Beverly Goldberg, American Libraries, July 27, 2011

…. Mayor McLean’s sentiments about public accountability are echoed in a new toolkit from ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy. However, “Keeping Public Libraries Public: A Checklist for Communities Considering Privatization of Public Libraries” makes no bones about ALA’s opposition to library privatization. …. That distinction has also captured the interest of the California legislature, where a bill is being considered that would regulate under what circumstances the management of a library that is withdrawing from a free county library system could be privatized.

Education Department chooses firm with ties to Betsy DeVos for debt-collection contract

Source: Charlie May, Salon, January 14, 2018

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos once had financial ties to one of the two companies selected by the Department of Education to assist the agency in collecting unpaid student loans. The company, Performant Financial Corp., has also been criticized by other contract bidders for having inadequate ratings in the past. Performant and Windham Professionals were the two firms that were awarded contracts, out of almost 40 other bidders, and the deal is expected to be worth as much as $400 million, the Washington Post reported. The decision was touted by the Education Department as “the most advantageous to the government,” however, Performant’s past ratings have contrasted that assessment. Prior to her job with the Trump administration, DeVos was listed as an investor to LMF WF Portfolio, a limited liability company linked to Performant. …

Central chooses contractor to run next five years of privatized government

Source: Andrea Gallo, The Advocate, January 9, 2018

People in Central should expect another five years of their government services coming from private contractor IBTS after the company won praise Tuesday evening from both Mayor Jr. Shelton and the Central City Council. IBTS, the Institute for Building Technology and Safety, has spent the past seven years running government services in Central, where the number of city government employees can be counted on one hand. The not-for-profit, Virginia-based company was one of two that bid for the contract to run services that other City Halls hire government employees to accomplish. IBTS offered its services starting at $3.9 million annually and working up to $4.4 million in the final year of a five-year contract. … One big change Shelton said Central wants from IBTS is to beef up emergency services. The August 2016 floods exposed a weak spot in Central’s privatized system of government — the lack of personnel and resources available on a round-the-clock basis to respond to disasters, he said. … CH2M Hill provided city services before IBTS took over.

Federal Fraud Recoveries Decline in Fiscal Year 2017

Source: Project on Government Oversight, January 2, 2018

… The DOJ announced it had recouped $3.7 billion through settlements and judgments in False Claims Act cases in fiscal year 2017. This amount is nearly 23 percent lower than the previous fiscal year, but roughly in line with FY 2015’s total. This seems to be a trend: a historical analysis of DOJ’s fraud recoveries since 1986 (the year Congress substantially strengthened the False Claims Act) shows that, in recent years, a substantial drop-off occurs in non-election years. … As in past years, the largest share of the recoveries—about two-thirds—involved health care fraud. But a substantial sum also came from some of Uncle Sam’s largest contractors:

  • AECOM and Bechtel: $125 million to settle False Claims Act allegations that the contractors charged the government for deficient materials and services at the Hanford Nuclear Site. Separately, AECOM paid over $5.2 million to settle another fraud investigation involving its work at Hanford.
  • Agility: $95 million to settle a 12-year-old case accusing the company of overcharging the government for food supplied to U.S. troops in the Middle East.
  • Atlantic Diving Supply: $16 million for allegedly inducing the government to award small business contracts to companies misrepresenting their eligibility as socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries: $9.2 million to resolve claims of overbilling the government for work at its Mississippi shipyards.
  • Pacific Architects and Engineers: $5 million to settle allegations that it failed to properly screen and oversee personnel working on a contract to train Afghan security forces.
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation: $14.9 million for allegedly causing the government to pay inflated labor costs on contracts.
  • Defense contractors accounted for $220 million in fraud settlements and judgments.