State software system bid gets outside auditor

Source: DON WALKER, Journal Sentinel (WI), Feb. 7, 2006

Mindful of the fallout from the Adelman Travel contract, state Administration Secretary Stephen Bablitch has brought in former state auditor Dale Cattanach to oversee the selection process for a massive new information system the state wants to install. Bablitch brought Cattanach in as part of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s directive to provide greater public assurance about the bid process, said Tom Solberg, a spokesman for the Department of Administration. “We want to make sure there is transparency to the process,” he said. “We want it to be fair.”

Halliburton affiliate tabbed to build immigration jails

Source: Mason Stockstill, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, February 5, 2006

A Houston-based construction firm with ties to the White House has been awarded an open-ended contract to build immigration detention centers that could total $385 million a move that some critics called questionable. The contract calls for KBR, a subsidiary of oil engineering and construction giant Halliburton, to build temporary detention facilities in the event of an “immigration emergency,” according to U.S. officials. ….. The Government Accounting Office has criticized both Halliburton and KBR for cost overruns and inappropriately obtaining government projects under a similar contingency-based program connected to reconstruction work in Iraq, Cray said. The companies’ work in Iraq has ranged from providing meals for soldiers to planning for troops to occupy Iraqi oil fields. Halliburton’s billions of dollars in revenue from federal contracts, many of them awarded without competitive bidding, have made it a frequent target of critics who accuse the Bush administration of cronyism.

FSSA Likely To Be Privatized Through Out-Of-State Company

Source: The IndyChannel , UPDATED: 3:51 pm EST February 4, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — The companies most likely to seek the state’s $1 billion contract that will give them control of determining who’s eligible for food stamps and other federal safety-net program are all based outside of Indiana. Gov. Mitch Daniels defended the privatization plan Friday, even though hiring one of those companies would go against his mandate that state contracts be directed toward Indiana firms. Daniels said that even though the top contract contenders are from out-of-state, he believes the deal will save taxpayers’ money.

Edison has staying power

Source: By CLARE JELLICK, Peoria JOURNAL STAR, Saturday, February 4, 2006

PEORIA – Five District 150 School Board members have a laundry list of issues they want to see addressed before they’ll vote to get rid of Edison Schools. District Superintendent Ken Hinton announced Friday that he was delaying a Monday board vote because his recommendation to remove Edison doesn’t have enough board support. Board members said they need to see a more detailed plan to replicate Edison, parental and staff support for the plan and more proof that the district will save as much money as is claimed.

Advocates decry detention "gold rush"

Source: By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press, 02/02/2006

The post-Sept. 11 push to lock up immigrants is creating a detention bed “gold rush” without the equivalent enforcement to ensure detainees’ legal and human rights are protected, a panel of immigration advocates said Thursday. Private prison corporations and local governments are benefiting from Congress’ rush to crack down on immigrants as some lawmakers look to score political points by getting tough on immigration, the advocates said. ….. The private prison industry has attributed its industry rebound, in part, to the rapid increase in immigration detentions. Many detainees are housed at facilities run by Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut. Some groups consider Texas “ground zero” for what they call the immigration detention boom. The state has at least 7,000 recently built or proposed private prison beds for housing immigrant detainees for ICE or the U.S. Marshals.

Man who was wrongly jailed gets settlement

Source: By Tina Moore, Philadelphia Inquirer (DE), Fri, Feb. 03, 2006

A Colwyn man who was imprisoned for 44 days last year after Delaware County jail officials refused to check his repeated, and true, claim that they had the wrong person has netted a cash settlement, court records show. James J. Johnson, 28, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that correctional officers missed opportunities to verify his identity and threatened to charge him with additional crimes if he did not stop claiming that he was not Shawn Carter, the name on the arrest warrant used to jail him. ….. The county jail is run by the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., of Boca Raton, Fla., and is the only privately run prison in the state. The company, not the county, is responsible for all settlements and court awards.

Cowles calls for review of technology spending

Source: DON WALKER, Journal Sentinel (WI), Feb. 4, 2006

Citing a number of information technology horror stories involving several state agencies, key members of the Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee today called for a massive state review. “The I.T. gravy train must be derailed,” said State Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), who was joined by co-chairs Sen. Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh) and Rep. Susan Jeskewitz (R-Menomonee Falls). “I have called for this audit to bring more accountability to these computer projects as I think we need a comprehensive audit to review these cost overruns.” If approved by the Joint Audit Committee, the Legislative Audit Bureau would conduct the review. According to Cowles, the state spends more than $740 million each year on contracts for information technology projects, and state spending on technology contractors has grown by more than 100% in the past decade to roughly $90 million.

Senators question savings under social services revamp

Source: By LIZ AUSTIN. Associated Press (TX), 02/02/200

The reorganization of Texas’ health and human services system came under fire on Wednesday, as members of the powerful Senate Finance Committee questioned whether it has saved the state as much money as was projected. The massive overhaul approved by the Legislature in 2003 was supposed to save Texas $1.1 billion by August 2005, according to a fiscal analysis given to lawmakers three years ago. “Frankly, I just don’t see the savings,” committee chairman Sen. Steve Ogden, R-College Station, said Wednesday after directing Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins to submit a detailed progress report by the end of February.

Council to have stronger input regarding outsourcing

Source: By Judith R. Tackett, Nashville City Paper, February 02, 2006

Metro Council wants to have more input in the privatization of governmental services and last month passed an ordinance that closes a loophole allowing departments to outsource jobs without Council approval. The ordinance, which was sponsored by Councilman Erik Cole, was a direct response to last year’s restructuring of the Metro Social Services Department.

Editorial: Turnpike privatization would affect K-State students

Source: Kansas State Collegian, Thursday, February 2, 2006

According to an article in the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Kansas Turnpike Authority is considering the privatization of its turnpike. KTA could receive up to $3.1 billion if it leased the turnpike to private operators. The banking firms Citigroup and Goldman Sachs both have submitted proposals to KTA for privatization, which would increase tolls for drivers.