Editorial: Hunger-free Hoosiers

Source: Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (IN), Nov 30, 2005

December is filled with holiday parties. For most, the concern will be eating too much. Yet the ugly truth is that the number of Hoosiers who are not getting enough to eat during the holidays and throughout the year is growing. Too many of those empty stomachs belong to children. Indiana’s elected leaders need to do more to make sure residents are not going hungry. …. This need to increase Indiana’s share of federal food assistance dollars is one reason Gov. Mitch Daniel should proceed with caution with his plan to privatize the state’s welfare program eligibility approval process. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has already requested quotes from vendors interested in the $1.5 billion contract.

New Albany gets four trash bids / City hopes to save through privatization

Source: The Courier-Journal (KY), Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An effort to find a new garbage hauler in New Albany has drawn four bidders, including the union that represents the city’s existing sanitation workers. A decision on who will serve the city’s 11,000 trash customers isn’t expected for two weeks. The bids submitted yesterday to the city’s Board of Public Works show a wide range of proposed fees, from $11.56 a month to $17.63 a month per household. The current rate is $13.75. ….. The union’s proposal would cost $16.75 a month per household. It would include the creation of a solid-waste transfer station at 37 W. Fifth St. Roger Poer, an accountant with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the union workers also are more flexible than many private companies and are prepared to pick up random items such as tires when needed.

(UB)

Idaho prisons face overcrowding

Source: Associated Press (ID)
Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — When Idaho shipped 302 inmates to a private Minnesota prison last month, it was only easing overcrowding: The state’s prisons remain above capacity, and Department of Correction officials appear likely to ask for a nearly $8 million cash infusion during the upcoming 2006 Legislature to handle the overflow. With a two-year contract, it’ll cost Idaho about $1.1 million more to lock up its prisoners at the prison in Appleton, Minn., run by the Corrections Corporation of America. That’s based on figures given by state officials on Oct. 27, when they said it would cost $53 per day in Minnesota, compared to $48 in Idaho.

What’s behind your lunch? What is a company with a history like that of Aramark doing running our campus dining service? Part I

Source: By John Hoff, Minnesota Daily, November 9, 2005

Complaints about campus food service are nothing new. Words like dreadful and abominable can be found in the minutes of various campus committees, available over the Internet, mixed with the corporate name Aramark like a less than fresh stir-fry. These are not merely the words of students, but spoken by faculty members advocating on behalf of students, like professor Paula Rabinowitz, whose remarks were summarized in minutes of the Faculty Consultative Committee on July 12, 2000, as follows: “The food is abominable and almost inedible.” She also maintained that the retail food service has a nearly-captive audience because it is a long walk to find places to eat off campus and then only to “abominable fast food places.” Moreover, it is cold in the winter; people do not want to walk half an hour to eat. She said the food was demoralizing and that there are appallingly few choices. Many people now bring their lunches and eat in their offices, she said, which is a sad commentary on the food.

Part II: From scrapes with federal authorities, to cigarette price fixing, to “Ninny the Torch,” Aramark serves up a buffet of controversy.
Part III: From dangerous meat to oversized chichis, Aramark serves a buffet of controversy.
Part IV: A dirty thumbnail history of Aramark’s troubled relationship with the University via Daily archives brings us to the present day.

State software cost doubles / $27.6 million computer system to track sales tax has never functioned properly

Source: PATRICK MARLEY, Journal Sentinel (WI), Nov. 18, 2005

The computer system that tracks the state’s sales tax receipts – which has yet to work properly – cost more than twice as much as originally budgeted, a newly released review of the project shows. The state Department of Revenue in 2000 agreed to pay contractor American Management Systems Inc. $12.2 million, but the cost swelled to $27.6 million by early this year, the report says.

A Private Obsession

Source: PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times (subscription required), Nov 18, 2005

…… Earlier this year Senator Rick Santorum introduced a bill that would have forced the National Weather Service to limit the weather information directly available to the public. Although he didn’t say so explicitly, he wanted the service to funnel that information through private forecasters instead. Mr. Santorum’s bill didn’t go anywhere. But it was a classic attempt to force gratuitous privatization: involving private corporations in the delivery of public services even when those corporations have no useful role to play. The Medicare drug benefit is an example of gratuitous privatization on a grand scale. ….. A number of studies have found that managed-care plans, which have much higher administrative costs than government-managed Medicare, end up costing the system money, not saving it. But privatization, once promoted as a way to save money, has become a goal in itself. The 2003 bill that established the prescription drug benefit also locked in large subsidies for managed care.

Bridge inspection called too costly / Union says work force cuts driving state reliance on contractors

Source: Albany Times Union (NY)
Date: Monday, November 21, 2005

Hiring private contractors to inspect New York’s bridges is costing the state at least 50 percent more than using state employees on the job, according to a new study by the Public Employees Federation. What’s more, PEF analysts say, internal Department of Transportation memos show that the agency’s increasing reliance on consultants hasn’t been fueled by a desire to save money, increase efficiency or improve quality. Rather, the memos indicate that consultant contracts are seen as a way to replace bridge inspectors lost due to early retirements and freezes on hiring and promotions.

Editorial: State contracts aren’t saving enough money

Source: Appleton Post Crescent, November 22, 2005

The state of Wisconsin has broken the bottom-line rule about awarding contracts: They have to be a good deal. But some of the contracts the state has issued as part of Gov. Jim Doyle’s Accountability, Consolidation and Efficiency Initiative aren’t a good deal because they don’t save the state as much money as they could. The Associated Press found state employees — particularly those in the University of Wisconsin System — who say they can buy products such as office equipment and janitorial supplies cheaper than they’re required to buy them under the state’s mandatory contracts.

Report: Firm was advised to inflate fees

Source: Associated Press (OH), Nov 21, 2005

COLUMBUS – A consulting firm analyzing the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation was advised by a bureau lawyer to inflate its hourly fees to get around a law that requires consultants to be reimbursed for expenses at the same rate as state employees, a newspaper reported Sunday. The agency has been overhauling its financial strategy since revelations last spring that it lost more than $300 million in investments, including $13 million in rare coins and $215 million in a hedge fund. Ennis Knupp & Associates has billed the state $1.2 million for its work analyzing and stabilizing the bureau’s investments. The bill included $1,695 for three hours traveling, $470 for two hours copying documents and almost $1,300 for a couple of hours spent reading and writing e-mail messages, according to records analyzed by the Columbus Dispatch.

State food stamp contract worth $1 billion

Source: Associated Press (IN), November 18, 2005

Privatizing the state operations for determining who is eligible for food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare benefits will cost at least $1 billion, or more than twice the state’s largest currently active contract, the Daniels administration has told vendors. Such a contract would cover a term of five to seven years, state Family and Social Services Administration spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said today in confirming the potential size of the contract.