Tag Archives: Alaska

Operators picked for privatized state parks near Delta

Source: Sam Friedman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, August 3, 2017
 
The Alaska Division of Parks and Recreation announced earlier this summer that, because of budget cuts from the Legislature, parks employees would cease providing services such as trash pickup and outhouse cleaning at six state parks around Delta Junction.  The state put those maintenance services out to bid in July. Under the contracts, the businesses are to provide services and collect fees from park visitors for amenities such as parking, camping and boat launch use. In return, the businesses pay a flat fee to the state as well as a percentage of revenues from the businesses. …

School board votes down outsourcing custodial services

Source: Chris Ford, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, May 5, 2017

More than two hours into Wednesday evening’s Mat-Su Borough School District’s regular board meeting, the crowd erupted into applause following a vote not to award a more than $4.8 million, three-year contract to NANA Management Services for custodial services. The board heard from about a dozen individuals on potential budget cuts under consideration as the district continues to wrangle with unknown funding sources as its June 30 deadline to approve a balanced budget nears. Privatizing the service was expected to provide of the largest savings in the at least $11 million deficit. But when the question came, the issue failed on a 4-3 vote. …

Petition circling to stop Mat-Su school district from outsourcing custodial, cafeteria positions
Source: Sierra Starks, KTVA Alaska, March 27, 2017

Faced with a $10 million budget deficit, cuts sometimes have to be made beyond the classroom, says Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD) assistant superintendent Luke Fulp. As a “viable option to help reduce ongoing expenses and financial obligations,” the district is looking to outsource its custodian and nutrition service workers. In February, the MSBSD voted 4 to 3 to move forward with a request for proposal (RFP), calling for companies interested in providing contracted employees. It’s a move Fulp says could save the district up to $4.3 million. And with a $10 million budget deficit, he says the district is “exploring all options, and making sure everything is on the table, especially when it comes to support services, where we could limit the disruption to students.” … But those cuts come at the cost of connections made over the years, says Karen Salisbury, president of the Mat-Su Classified Employees Association, which oversees the borough’s custodians and nutrition workers. … Potential for a flood of new faces in the district’s schools doesn’t sit well with Salisbury, so she’s spearheading an online petition to get the school board to say no to outsourcing when the measure is up for a vote in April. … Meanwhile, the district is moving forward with the process to outsource. An intent-to-award letter was issued to Nana Management Services on Friday, Fulp says. …

15 Lawmakers Plotting to Privatize America’s Public Lands

Source: EcoWatch, March 17, 2017

…Despite the irreplaceable value these places hold, in recent years, a concerted effort has been driven forward by certain senators and U.S. representatives to seize, dismantle, destroy and privatize our public lands. These lawmakers are backed by fossil fuel corporations and other extractive industries that already squeeze massive profits out of America’s public lands and only want more. In order to realize this goal, every year these corporations push millions of dollars toward federal lawmakers to motivate them to introduce and pass legislation that would have the effect of either fully privatizing public lands or opening them up to unfettered extraction and development. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a report that analyzed 132 bills that were introduced in the past three congressional sessions, between 2011 and 2016, and identified the lawmakers who authored and cosponsored the greatest number of these bills. The list of “Public Lands Enemies” that emerged includes nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators from eight western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

These 15 Public Lands Enemies are:
1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
2. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st District)
3. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
4. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz., 4th District)
5. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
6. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd District)
7. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, At Large)
8. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
9. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho, 1st District)
10. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, 3rd District)
11. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev., 2nd District)
12. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
13. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M., 2nd District)
14. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif., 4th District)
15. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

Read full report.

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How Politicians Are Using Taxpayer Money To Fund Their Campaign To Sell Off America’s Public Lands
Source: Matt Lee-Ashley, ThinkProgress, June 18, 2014

…According to a ThinkProgress analysis, the American Lands Council (ALC) — an organization created to help states to claim ownership of federal lands — has collected contributions of taxpayer money from government officials in 18 counties in Utah, 10 counties in Nevada, four counties in Washington, three counties in Arizona, two counties in Oregon, two counties in New Mexico, and one county in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. In total, county-level elected officials have already paid the ALC more than $200,000 in taxpayer money. A list of these counties and their “membership levels” can be seen on the ALC website. Since its inception in 2012, the ALC has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative front group backed by the oil and gas industry and billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over federally owned national forests and public lands to Western states. So far, Utah is the only state to have signed a law calling for the seizure of federal lands, but Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have passed bills to study the idea and further action is expected in statehouses during 2015 legislative sessions….

Privatization could save some money at API, not at youth centers

Source: Andrew Kitchenman, APRN, February 6, 2017
 
Consultants who studied the privatization for the state found that management of the institute, as well as operating the state’s juvenile justice detention centers, are better done by the state.  Coy Jones is the senior consultant for Public Consulting Group and said savings depend on how many patients are at the psychiatric institute. … The state also couldn’t find savings in privatizing pharmacy services at Pioneer Homes.  The state studied privatizing services as a result of a new law that overhauled Medicaid in Alaska. The Senate Health and Social Services Committee held a hearing on the studies Monday.

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Studies recommend against privatizing psychiatric hospital or juvenile jails
Source: Michelle Theriault Boots, Alaska Dispatch News, February 1, 2017

Alaska would not benefit by using contractors to run its juvenile jails or the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, according to a pair of Legislature-ordered reports on privatization written by consultants. The feasibility studies were mandated as part of a health care bill passed by the Alaska Legislature in 2016. With Alaska facing a $3.2 billion budget crisis, the privatization studies were supposed to examine whether the state could hand over management of its only psychiatric hospital and its short-term juvenile jails to private groups and save money without threatening the quality of services. The answer for juvenile jails was an unqualified “no.” Rather than corporate prison companies like Geo Group, which the Department of Corrections uses to run halfway houses around the state, the state seemed to be looking for a different approach for running detention centers where arrested teenagers are held short-term. … Alaska’s Department of Corrections already leans on the world’s largest private prison company, Geo Group, to manage all but one of its halfway houses.

… For the overburdened Alaska Psychiatric Institute, privatization might end up being more expensive than state control, the study found. Handing over management of the psychiatric hospital to a private company or a nonprofit would cost more “even after significant staff reductions,” according to a letter on the study’s findings sent by Davidson to legislators. It would be better, the evaluators found, if the state continued to manage the hospital that is supposed to serve as Alaska’s safety net for mentally ill people.

Should Alaska Psychiatric Institute be privatized?
Source: Annie Zak, Alaska Dispatch News, August 26, 2016

Members of the mental health community and general public had a chance on Thursday to voice concerns and ask questions about the possibility of the state-run Alaska Psychiatric Institute becoming a private entity. A Boston-based company called Public Consulting Group Inc., is conducting a feasibility study to identify and analyze potential options for how to best manage API. … The Legislature passed a broad health care bill this year that mandates the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, in partnership with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, look at whether a private contractor for API works for the state. The feasibility study will examine several options for what to do with the facility, including keeping it under state ownership and contracting out for some operations; forming a public corporation to operate API; keep it under state ownership but look for new sources of revenue; and contracting with a nonprofit or for-profit third party to take over management and operations. … A private operator of API would be subject to a state oversight committee, according to the DHSS. … The plan is to have the API feasibility study ready for the Legislature to review in January. …

Psychiatric hospital privatization to be discussed
Source: The News Miner, August 22, 2016

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority are hosting a roundtable discussions about privatizing the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Alaska’s only public psychiatric hospital. A study about privatizing the hospital is a mandate of Senate Bill 74, signed into law by Gov. Bill Walker earlier this year. The Public Consulting Group, Inc., won the contract for the feasibility study on June 11 to identify and analyze potential options for privatizing the hospital. …

Alaska selects winning bids for privatization studies
Source: Zack Hale, State of Reform, July 19, 2016

Alaska’s sweeping Medicaid reform bill, signed into law last month by Gov. Bill Walker, included provisions that require the state to hire outside contractors to perform feasibility studies for privatizing some parts of the state’s health care system. Specifically, the law mandates an analysis of the privatization of certain pharmacy services, juvenile facilities, and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. So far the state has received two winning bids from firms that will perform feasibility analyses for the privatization of juvenile facilities and the state’s only public psychiatric hospital. … Carter Goble Associates, LLC, (CGA) submitted the winning bid to examine the feasibility of privatizing the programs offered in the Department of Juvenile Justice’s short-term secure detention facilities for youthful offenders. CGA’s winning proposal can be read here. … Public Consulting Group, Inc. (PCG) submitted the winning bid to conduct a feasibility analysis for privatizing certain aspects of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, which the proposal notes “serves as the sole safety net for the entire state.” PCG’s winning proposal can be read here. …

Alaska looks into privatizing some health and juvenile justice services
Source: Annie Zak, Alaska Dispatch News, May 27, 2016

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday put out requests for proposals for studies that would examine privatization of services at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, four Division of Juvenile Justice facilities across the state, and the pharmacy program at Alaska Pioneer Homes. … For API, some of the options include contracting a for-profit or nonprofit entity to take over management and operations; forming a public corporation to operate the hospital; keep it under state ownership and look for new revenue streams; or keep it under state ownership and contract out for certain services. … The state is also looking at potential options to privatize four short-term juvenile detention facilities in Nome, Ketchikan, Kenai and Palmer. The state is asking whoever performs the feasibility study also analyze the possibility of converting one or more of the facilities to offer nonsecure residential mental health and/or substance abuse treatment services. … Alaska Pioneer Homes, which provide assisted living care and pharmaceutical services to people 65 and older, is a state-run program that is “serving a greater proportion of high acuity residents than in the past, as prospective residents have been staying in their own homes as long as possible,” the RFP said. … The state wants an outside contractor to look at the costs and income of the current pharmacy program, as well as the needs of the program (like pharmacist consultations, or managing medication), to find out what the best option is to privatize it.

Alaska Employees Union Files Class-Action Grievance Over Governor’s Plan to Privatize

Source: SitNews, December 29, 2016

An Alaska State Employees association filed a class-action grievance Tuesday against Governor Walker and his Administration on behalf of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities construction design employees, whose duties will be privatized under Gov. Walker’s proposed FY2018 Operating Budget. The grievance was filed by ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 headquartered in Anchorage. ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 represents more than 8,000 state and municipal employees across Alaska. In addition to cutting hundreds of positions to bridge Alaska’s fiscal gap, Governor Walker’s budget includes plans to privatize construction design work in the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities without performing a feasibility study or providing an opportunity for the Union to submit alternate proposals to retain State employees, as is required under the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by the State of Alaska and ASEA. …

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State employees union files grievance over Governor Walker’s plan to privatize DOT jobs
Source: Daniella Rivera, KTVA, December 27, 2016

Gov. Bill Walker is facing more pushback over his proposed budget for next year, this time in the form of a grievance a state employees union has filed. Staff members of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ design department are responsible for designing construction projects like roads and intersections. Part of Walker’s fiscal plan is letting 76 of those employees go in 2018 and up to 300 more in the future, as well as outsourcing jobs. His fiscal year 2018 Budget Review says, “Outsourcing design has the added advantage of bolstering the private sector economy while maximizing the number of projects completed with the available transportation funding.” … The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the ASEA, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 52 and the State of Alaska — which took effect in July — states in Article 13, “Decisions to contract out shall be made only after the affected agency has conducted a written feasibility study determining the potential costs and benefits that would result from contracting out the work in question. The study shall include all costs associated with contracting out the work in question including, but not limited to, wages, benefits, administrative costs, agency overhead, program supervision, and audits.” Duncan said that study hasn’t been done, and the governor’s plan breaches the contract. The grievance claims the governor and the state have “failed to consider the intent behind the agreement regarding privatization” by acting outside the CBA’s guidelines. Because of that, ASEA claims the governor and state are in violation of Article 13 and wants them to immediately stop contracting out members’ work and follow the CBA’s rules regarding privatization. Duncan said roughly 50 percent of design work is currently outsourced. …

SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS

Source: Jessica Hathaway, NCSL, July 12, 2016
Overview

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), a type of pay-for-success funding agreement, are a private financing mechanism used to fund social programs. SIBs are gaining interest from policymakers at all levels of government as a way to mitigate the simultaneous demands of tight budgets and rising social service costs. To date, state level SIB activity has centered on legislative efforts to authorize the process, create study committees, begin pilot projects, engage in feasibility studies and learn which types of programs this financing tool can be effectively used for. …

Use of Social Impact Bonds at the State Level

At least 24 states and the District of Columbia have considered, are considering or are implementing SIB related projects. Of these, 11 states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah —and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation. Legislative introductions and enactments range from establishing study committees to creating funds and supporting pilot projects. Enacted legislative actions are listed below. …

See list of enacted Social Impact Bond bills.

Should some state ferry routes be privatized?

Source: Ed Schoenfeld, KTOO, March 15, 2016

A state lawmaker with a significant role in transportation funding decisions says parts of the Alaska Marine Highway should be privatized. Sen. Peter Micciche is a member of his chamber’s Finance Committee and oversaw crafting of its transportation budget. He said the ferry system should consider management changes. … Micciche said he doesn’t advocate privatizing the entire ferry system. “Keep the long runs, the longer routes, in control of the state. Privatize the smaller ones. And the cost savings could go to reliable service for the communities that absolutely depend on a state-run portion or segment of the ferry service,” he said. … One part of the marine highway already separated from the larger system. The Inter-Island Ferry Authority has run a ship between Hollis, on southern Southeast’s Prince of Wales Island, and Ketchikan for about 15 years. It’s a nonprofit operation, run by a board of community representatives. Most of its revenue comes from the fare box. But it has also received state subsidies most years.

Chamber of Commerce releases its recommendations for Alaska’s fiscal crisis

Source: Matt Buxton, The News Miner, August 27, 2015

The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce is recommending lawmakers continue cutting, renegotiate union contracts and consider privatization of services as part of the solution to the state’s fiscal crisis. … The document targets the departments of Education and Early Development and Health and Social Services, which together amount to about 60 percent of the budget. Unions also are mentioned as a way to control state spending. During the session, the Legislature had attempted to not fund negotiated pay raises before ultimately restoring them. …

Commentary: Sale of Solid Waste Services is bad for customers, Anchorage taxpayers

Source: Jillanne Inglis, Dispatch News, May 11, 2015

There is a potential sale brewing and many taxpayers may not realize it. The mayor proposes to sell the municipality’s Solid Waste Services collection. At first thought, the sale of the of SWS collection seems like a small issue. The service is provided in the historic core areas of the city. SWS serves approximately 13,000 customers. At first glance one might think what is the big deal? Think again, it is a big deal. … Solid Waste Services, the city’s garbage service, made over $2 million in 2014. It had a reserve account of approximately $7.8 million at year’s end. SWS has investigated profitable new services and the numbers could look even better. It “ain’t broke.” So why should it be sold or contracted out?

CH2M Hill Selected to Rescue Anchorage Port ProjectCH2M Hill Selected to Rescue Anchorage Port Project

Source: Daysha Eaton, KSKA, January 2, 2014

The Engineering firm CH2M Hill has been selected to manage the troubled Port of Anchorage project. The project was shutdown after construction problems a few years ago and remains tied up in lawsuits. but today officials said it could be on track again this year. The role of the project manager will be to oversee the day-to-day operations of the construction project moving forward, setting timelines and benchmarks and selecting and supervising the work of subcontractors. CH2M Hill will not be involved in designing or building the port. … CH2M Hill purchased the now defunct Veco Corporation, which was involved in the work that had the problems and is now party to a lawsuit by city. But Mayor Sullivan says that won’t be a problem. … She added that the previous ‘open cell sheet pile’ design will not be used again but did not specify what design her firm favors. The contract with CH2M Hill is for 30 million dollars over five years with the option for two extensions at 12 more million dollars each. …