A bipartisan push in Congress backed by President Donald Trump to slow America’s rising prison population has a puzzling supporter: A Boca Raton-based for-profit prison company. GEO Group, one of the country’s largest detention companies, is publicly urging the Senate not to adjourn without passing the FIRST STEP Act, a bill that seeks to shorten some federal drug sentences and reduce the likelihood inmates will end up back behind bars. GEO’s biggest competitor, CoreCivic, is backing the bill as well. On the surface, it’s a curious position for leaders of a $4.8 billion industry enriched by tough-on-crime policies that swept millions of Americans into lengthy sentences over the past three decades. But others see two companies well-positioned to profit if Congress goes through with this reform. …
The Private Probation Services Council’s purpose is to ensure that uniform professional and contract standards are practiced and maintained by private corporations, enterprises, and entities engaged in rendering general misdemeanor probation supervision, counseling, and collection services to the courts.
We have audited the Private Probation Services Council for the period July 1, 2013, through October 31, 2018. Our audit scope included a review of internal controls and compliance with laws, regulations, policies, and procedures related to the council’s responsibilities in the following areas:
– council member appointments, meetings, and reserve balances;
– council oversight, including entity contract review and background screening;
– council conflict-of-interest disclosures; and
– initial licensure applications, annual license renewal applications, and quarterly fee collections…..
The founder of Southwest Key made millions from housing migrant children. His nonprofit has stockpiled taxpayer dollars and possibly engaged in self-dealing with top executives. … Mr. Sanchez has built an empire on the back of a crisis. His organization, Southwest Key Programs, now houses more migrant children than any other in the nation. Casting himself as a social-justice warrior, he calls himself El Presidente, a title inscribed outside his office and on the government contracts that helped make him rich. Southwest Key has collected $1.7 billion in federal grants in the past decade, including $626 million in the past year alone. But as it has grown, tripling its revenue in three years, the organization has left a record of sloppy management and possible financial improprieties, according to dozens of interviews and an examination of documents. It has stockpiled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars with little government oversight and possibly engaged in self-dealing with top executives. …Southwest Key has created a web of for-profit companies — construction, maintenance, food services and even a florist — that has funneled money back to the charity through high management fees and helps it circumvent government limits on executive pay. …
After decades of ducking the legal requirement that it undergo a thorough financial audit, the Pentagon finally opened up its books to 1,200 outside accountants and analysts. The report was recently completed, and here’s the good news: The Army Corps of Engineers (most of it, anyway) and the Military Retirement Fund passed the audit. The bad news: The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and most other divisions failed, which means they were unable to show that they were properly keeping track of their finances and assets. … The Pentagon failed the audit largely because there are serious gaps in the financial controls that guide it, the world’s largest military organization. Basically, the auditors couldn’t account for where all the money went because of flaws in information technology systems. That laxity — and the prospect of tax dollars flowing to boondoggles — would be concerning at any time. But it is especially worrisome when the federal budget deficit has skyrocketed to $779 billion — and the military is insisting it needs more money. …
After two years of releasing see-sawing estimates, Iowa Medicaid leaders are correctly calculating how much the state is saving by hiring private companies to manage the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program, the state auditor concluded Monday. State Auditor Mary Mosiman said the May 2018 estimate of $141 million in annual savings was more accurate than earlier state estimates of $234 million and $47 million. Using the most recent estimation method with updated financial information, Mosiman’s office estimates the fiscal year 2018 savings at $126 million. The auditor chided the Iowa Department of Human Services for failing to have an accurate way to estimate the savings when the state made the shift to private Medicaid management in 2016.
Iowa’s Medicaid privatization: Kim Reynolds says right track; Fred Hubbell says ‘disaster’
Source: William Petroski and Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register, September 4, 2018
Two months ahead of Election Day, Iowa’s gubernatorial candidates painted a vastly different portrait of the state’s Medicaid system Tuesday. In the morning, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds defended the state’s decision to shift administration of the program that serves 685,000 low-income or disabled Iowans to private management, telling reporters that initial problems have been addressed and the system is on the right track. In the afternoon, Democratic businessman Fred Hubbell held a roundtable with providers where he described a system in crisis and criticized Reynolds’ handling of the program. The results of privatizing the massive federal and state program in Iowa have become one of the issues that will influence — and may decide — this year’s governor’s race. …
A private Medicaid company that pulled out of Iowa has yet to pay thousands of medical bills
Source: Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register, August 30, 2018
A Medicaid company that terminated its Iowa contract almost a year ago has yet to pay as much as $14.6 million for medical care provided to disabled, poor and elderly Iowans, a Des Moines Register investigation shows. AmeriHealth Caritas’ outstanding bills include nearly 6,000 individual charges totaling more than $1 million at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and $541,000 at Broadlawns Medical Center, public records obtained by the Register show. Several private and nonprofit medical groups told the Register they have tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills that they say are hamstringing their operations and efforts to provide medical care. …
Iowa agrees to give Medicaid management firms 7.5% raise to continue running program
Source: Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, August 24, 2018
Iowa has agreed to give 7.5 percent more state money to the two private companies managing its $5 billion Medicaid program, officials announced Friday. The agreement will keep UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup in Iowa, but it will mean state leaders must come up with about $103 million more than last fiscal year. The new agreements cover the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The increase in state spending is more than double the 3.3 percent increase the state agreed to for last fiscal year. Overall, the new contracts will give the two companies raises of 8.4 percent in state and federal money, totaling $344 million. …
A new autopsy report shows Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez may have been beaten prior to her death. …. A transgender woman held at a privately operated Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center was likely beaten before her death, according to private autopsy results obtained by The Daily Beast. Both the private prison company that owns the facility and the detention center itself have faced allegations of misconduct and neglect in the past. …. Hernández Rodriguez was detained by immigration authorities at the border in early May and died on the 25th of that month, just nine days after being transferred to dedicated unit for transgender women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. As ThinkProgress previously reported, Hernández Rodriguez was the sixth person to die in ICE custody since October 2017. …. The Cibola County Correctional Center where Hernández Rodriguez was being held at the time of her death is operated by CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison corporations in the country. In the past, it has faced allegations of medical neglect, “including operating for months on end without a medical doctor and failing to provide basic care and screening for infectious diseases,” and come under scrutiny for a series of questionable deaths, The Nation reported in 2016. ….
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has two choices: squeeze more than $2 billion needed for replacing outdated and failing infrastructure from 80,000 ratepayers, or partner with a private company to defray some of those costs, Mayor Bill Peduto said Tuesday. Peduto is adamant about maintaining PWSA as a publicly owned system, but he’s open to suggestions from private enterprise on a partnership that would generate additional revenue. The mayor said he’s received more than a dozen offers from companies interested in providing the city with water, including Peoples Gas and Pennsylvania American Water. Peduto said Pennsylvania American, which provides water to the city’s South Hills residents, has offered to purchase the authority outright, but the company said it has not offered an official proposal. …
From Pittsburgh to Flint, the Dire Consequences of Giving Private Companies Responsibility for Ailing Public Water Systems
Source: Sharon Lerner and Leana Hosea, The Intercept, May 20, 2018
The lead crises in Flint and Pittsburgh have many unfortunate parallels. Residents of both cities unknowingly drank water with high levels of the potent neurotoxin, which has long-term health consequences. The rise in lead levels was preceded in both cases by a miscalculation related to chemicals used to control corrosion in water pipes. And in both places, officials have faced criticism for their inaction and failure to alert the public. The two lead crises have another important thing in common: a private water company named Veolia. The world’s largest supplier of water services, Veolia had contracts with both Flint and Pittsburgh around the time that lead levels rose in their drinking water. And in both places, Veolia wound up in legal disputes over its role in the crises. …
Pittsburgh’s Water System Is Why We Shouldn’t Run America Like a Business
Source: Jordana Rosenfeld, The Nation, November 30, 2017
Pittsburgh, in an attempt to deal with entrenched infrastructure problems, turned to the private sector in 2012 when it partnered with the French management firm Veolia North America, the same water-management company that would fail to disclose Flint’s lead-contamination problem in 2015. … The organization lauded Veolia for identifying $2.3 million in new PWSA revenue and $3 million more in operating savings, a move incentivized by their contract that stipulated the company could keep 40 percent of every dollar it saved the city. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a glowing account of PWSA’s partnership with Veolia, despite reports that it laid off 23 employees, many of whom were longtime employees with critical institutional knowledge. … But this August, a consulting group hired to assess the organization’s current state announced in a public meeting that PWSA was “a failed organization atop a dangerous and crumbling structure” with “an aging system in demonstrably worse condition than any water utility of its size in the country.” Not only that, water tests showed that since the partnership began, Pittsburgh’s water had been tainted with dangerously high levels of lead. …
Source: CBS News, August 17, 2018
… Imagine the only meal a schoolchild ate came from a school’s kitchen dishing out spoiled and rotten food. It happens, Mills found out. … In 2010, he took a hefty paycut to take a job as director of food services for Washington, D.C.’s public schools, where he would oversee feeding some 50,000 students. … He took over a system where the food was supplied by Chartwells, a multibillion dollar company that managed the menus and made all the purchase agreements for the food. He was shocked by what he saw. … Mills found the food was poorly prepared, not healthy and, in some cases, unsanitary. … He took his concerns to Chartwells with no real change. Then the contract was up for renewal by the District, and Mills called for an audit. He maintained the school district was being overcharged millions. The school district removed Mills and his team from oversight of the auditors. Mills was told to back off. Three years after he was hired, he was fired. He then sought an attorney for wrongful termination – and as a whistleblower. …
Auditor: DC Schools Should Stop Outsourcing Food Service
Source: Associated Press, October 8, 2016
A report from the District of Columbia auditor said the city’s school system should stop turning over food service to outside contractors. The report released Friday said outsourcing food service has not saved the city money as school officials promised and will continue to cost the system millions of dollars a year. In their response to the auditor’s report, school officials said they continue to oppose bringing food services back in-house. Former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson repeatedly argued that food service was not a “core competency” of the school system. …
Chartwells Era Ends As DCPS Selects New Food Providers – Following a whistleblower lawsuit last year
Source: Andrew Giambrone, Washington City Paper, May 23, 2016
The school-food provider at the heart of a whistleblower lawsuit in 2015 that revealed substandard food quality and fraud will not serve D.C. Public Schools students next academic year. DCPS announced in a statement on Friday that it has chosen DC Central Kitchen and SodexoMagic, with Revolution Foods as a subcontractor, to provide meals at more than 110 facilities. … The announcement follows a request for proposals DCPS posted in December, featuring a one year contract with four options years to renew. Still, which entities applied for the RFP won’t be publicly available until the contracts are approved because of procurement rules. Under the proposal, 12 schools in Ward 7 would be served by DC Central Kitchen, while the rest would be served by SodexoMagic and Revolution Foods. DC Central and Revolution served hundreds of thousands of meals last year. ….
Kansas lawmakers are recommending a review of the state’s privatized child welfare model to decide whether it’s in the state’s best interest. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Child Welfare System Task Force received the request Monday from two working groups it created to examine the system of programs operated within the Kansas Department for Children and Families. … Some lawmakers suggest privatization makes it difficult for the state to properly oversee the child welfare system, which has been scrutinized in recent years because of children who died in custody. … The task force is expected to make final recommendations to the Legislature at the end of the year.
Kansas Task Force Hears That Some Issues With Foster Care System Aren’t New
Source: Madeline Fox, KCUR, December 13, 2017
Descriptions of an underfunded, under-resourced foster care system short on child placement options sounded familiar to Kansas lawmakers and child welfare advocates at a task force meeting this week. But the events described Tuesday actually played out 30 years earlier, when a 1989 class-action lawsuit — alleging that the state’s foster care system violated the rights of Kansas children — raised issues that eventually led to the current privatized system. Rochelle Chronister, former secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (now the Department for Children and Families), said she believes privatization of the foster care system in the late 1990s made sense although it was a tumultuous process. …
New DCF secretary dives into review of Kansas foster care programs
Source: Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 12, 2017
On Tuesday, the new secretary at the Kansas Department for Children and Families promised a legislative task force studying weakness in the state’s foster care system a thorough top-to-bottom review of internal and contracting operations with an emphasis on improving public transparency. … Meier-Hummel, who was a member of the task force when hired as secretary, on Dec. 1 took over an agency denounced for its response to problems in the foster care system. DCF is responsible for programs tied to children, as well as welfare. For years, questions have been posed about whether DCF could do more to prevent deaths of children in contact with the agency. Meier-Hummel said the agency would review each fatality in search of lessons useful in avoiding future tragedy. …
Source: Emma Veidt, August 22, 2018
… Meela Walker said she thinks Student Transportation of America, which is contracted by the Columbia Public School District to provide transportation, was negligent and that the bus driver failed to follow company protocol. “The bus driver was horrible during the whole situation,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t getting any cooperation from STA.” … Baumstark said Student Transportation of America, not the Columbia Public School District, hires, fires and disciplines bus drivers. According to a statement released by Student Transportation of America yesterday, the driver has been removed from the route. …
Blue Ridge parents dissatisfied with school bus system
Source: Elise Brisco, KOMU 8, August 21, 2018
Samantha McCormick says she no longer trusts the school bus system to get her second grader where he’s supposed to be and when. Another Blue Ridge student was dropped off at the wrong stop Monday. …”We have had several incidents ourselves in the neighborhood where we actually had to request that the bus driver come and drop him off in front of the house because we kept missing him or they would not drop him of,” McCormick said. Columbia Public Schools contracts with a third party company, Student Transportation of America, to get students to and from school. McCormick said the company changes drivers often, which leads to confusion over where students should be dropped off. …