Tag Archives: Massachusetts

These vendors take in hundreds of millions of dollars serving Massachusetts colleges and universities

Source: Mary Moore, Boston Business Journal, September 12, 2014

They seldom get the headlines of a Harvard University or a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but hundreds of companies in Massachusetts support higher education institutions across the state under contracts that total in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. The Boston Business Journal reviewed the money spent in the 2013 fiscal year on independent contractors by more than two dozen colleges and universities in Greater Boston – the most expensive contracts at each school — and found a total of more than $709 million. That doesn’t count several dozen additional nonprofit colleges or universities and hundreds if not thousands of smaller contracts at each institution. Four of the biggest contracts were at Harvard University. Three of those, totaling $164 million, went to construction companies and one, for $40 million, went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a research subcontract….

…With contracts totaling $16 million, Aramark, a food service provider, was one of the most prevalent vendors among local colleges and universities, with contracts at Simmons College, Wheaton College, Regis College, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Berklee College of Music and Stonehill College. Looking forward, construction companies and related functions, such as architects, will continue to score the biggest vendor contracts at colleges and universities, said Jim Murtha, chairman and CEO of Maguire Associates, a higher education consulting company in Concord. Construction is the type of big-ticket function that most higher education institutions cannot bring in-house, he said. Yet, new types of pricey contracts are starting to evolve – for one, outsourced facilities management services, Murtha said. Those contracts include everything from janitorial services to painting lines on a ball field. Smaller colleges, in particular, are finding it less expensive to outsource all of these functions to one vendor, rather than running part of it in-house – janitorial services, for example – and signing smaller contracts with different service providers to fill the gaps….

FOI Request: All “goatscaping” performance assessments

Source: Requested by Beryl Lipton, Muck Rock, August 9, 2014 for the Boston City Clerk of Boston, MA and fulfilled on August 18, 2014

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c.66, §10, I hereby request the following records: All reports related to the performance of goats used in the maintenance of Hyde Park public spaces …

….Attached is all the documents the Parks Department has on the Goatscaping project in Hyde Park. This is a project that was taken on by South West Boston Community Development Corporation (SWBCDC). Their part time teenage staff approached Mayor Walsh at his annual Coffee Hour event on May 27th with the idea of having goats help clean up an Urban Wild area in Hyde Park that is overgrown with invasive plants such as poison ivy. At this event the Mayor told the crowd he liked the youth’s enthusiasm for the project and asked the Parks Department to look into it. The South West Boston CDC did all the work on this project. They obtained the liability, they flyered the neighborhood and they are the ones ultimately responsible for the project.The SWBCDC are the ones with the majority of the information as they are the ones that worked out the agreement with the goatscaping company. The Parks Department as the property owner permits them to be on the Urban Wild site for 8 weeks and this project comes with no cost to the city of Boston. The documents that we have received and/or responded to are attached and the answers to the questions are below….

Response documents

Boston Schools Re-up With Whitsons /Deal is for three years at $12.2 million a year

Source: Food Management, August 14, 2014

School meals in Boston Public Schools will be healthier and more locally-sourced this fall and students will have a regular role in planning menus as part of a new three-year food service contract with Whitsons Culinary Group. After a competitive review involving three main vendors, the BPS selected Whitsons for a $12.2 million annual contract to provide meals to BPS students.
In June, after an initial bid process, Mayor Martin Walsh and Interim Superintendent John McDonough directed potential vendors to strengthen and re-submit their proposals to the District.
Boston school systems scraps food vendor bids
Source: James Vaznis, Boston Globe, June 19, 2014

The Boston School Department tossed out all bids for a new food vendor contractor and is now seeking new proposals, city and school officials announced Wednesday. “After a thorough review of all the proposals we have received so far, including student taste tests, we believe we can still do better,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “We are directing vendors to go back to the drawing board and bring something new to the table, including more fresh salads, locally sourced options, and healthy choices that our students will look forward to every day.” The School Department received three bids: Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia, N.Y.; Preferred Meals of Berkeley, Ill.; and Revolution Foods of Oakland, Calif. Whitsons has been the contractor for the past three school years, while Preferred Meals has done the summer food program for years and at one time held the school-year contract.

‘Pay for Success’: a Better Way to Deliver Social Services?

Source: Charles Chieppo, Governing blog, August 5, 2014

The idea of shifting the risk of failed initiatives from taxpayers to investors is catching on. … Nobody likes to pay taxes, but I suspect that most people would find it a little easier to take if they knew their tax dollars were funding the achievement of concrete public goals. That’s the idea behind “pay-for-success” programs that have been launched during the last year in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York state and are being developed or considered in several others. … Last December, New York became the first state to launch a pay-for-success program. There the goal was to reduce recidivism among 2,000 recently released prison inmates. … Illinois is using pay for success to improve placement outcomes and reduce re-arrests for young people involved in the child-welfare and juvenile-justice systems. Massachusetts is employing the model to improve employment outcomes and post-secondary degree attainment among participants in adult basic education. The Obama administration has also gotten into the act, funding a model project in Ohio and committing $500 million to fund other state and local pay-for-success programs. California is the latest state seeking to launch a pay-for-success program. A bill that has passed the state Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly would create a pilot program beginning next year under which the director of the state’s Office of Planning and Research would identify and submit potential “social impact partnerships’ to the legislature for its consideration each year between 2015 and 2020, when the pilot would sunset. …

Privatization Defeated In Wareham, MA!

Source: AFSCME Council 93, Facebook, June 19, 2014

Congratulations to the members of AFSCME Local 30 in Wareham, MA. The local teamed up with Council 93 to derail fast track plans to privatize school cafeteria services. The school committee voted 5-0 last night to abandon the school superintendent’s RFP process, which could have eliminated AFSCME members’ jobs before at the end of the school year. Click the link below to see the video of the last month’s school committee meeting where the committee heard strong testimony in opposition to privatization from Council 93 and many other opponents of privatization. AFSCME testimony starts at minute 8 of the video.

School Committee unanimously votes to explore privatization of food services
Source: Wareham Week, May 21, 2014

Though several members of the community voiced displeasure over the possibility of Wareham privatizing the food service program at its schools, the School Committee still voted unanimously to support the request for proposal process…She said that included the formation of a subcommittee, as well a continued effort to review the current program and to seek ways to keep the services in-house….Jim Durkin, a union representative for the current food service workers in Wareham with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 93, presented several arguments against privatization, including an example in Chelmsford where workers hired by a private vendor either stole or were found to be involved with drugs. “I’ll ask you all to ask yourselves—are these the kind of things you want to bring to Wareham?,” said Durkin….

Springfield Public Schools of Springfield, MA – School Department vendor list for FY2012

Source: Requested by David Grogan, Muck Rock, Requested on May 2, 2014 and fulfilled on July 2, 2014

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c.66, §10, I hereby request the following records:
Complete vendor list showing name, address, Tax ID# and total amount paid for fiscal year 2012…..

….Attached, please find a copy of the requested document you sought in your Public Records request to the City of Springfield Public Schools dated May 2, 2014. Please note that the Tax ID column is blank as the system that maintains the rest of the records requested does not maintain Tax IDs. While Tax IDs are generally public records, it is not the duty of the Public Records custodian to create records. Social Security Numbers are exempt from disclosure and are therefore exempt from Public Records law….

2012 vendor report

Editorial: The Risks of Hospital Mergers

Source: New York Times, July 6, 2014

Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both affiliated with Harvard — merge into a single system known as Partners HealthCare. Investigations by the state attorney general’s office have documented that the merger gave the hospitals enormous market leverage to drive up health care costs in the Boston area by demanding high reimbursements from insurers that were unrelated to the quality or complexity of care delivered. ….. The experience in Massachusetts offers a cautionary tale to other states about the risks of big hospital mergers and the limits of antitrust law as a tool to break up a powerful market-dominating system once it is entrenched.

Raimondo criticized for keeping hedge fund consultant dropped by Massachusetts

Source: Randal Edgar, Providence Journal, June 26, 2014

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is standing by the state’s hedge fund consultant, even if her counterpart in Massachusetts has decided it’s time for a change in direction. Raimondo, who chairs the State Investment Commission, said through a spokeswoman Wednesday that there are no plans to part with Cliffwater LLC, the California-based firm that began advising Rhode Island officials — and, coincidentally, Massachusetts officials — in 2011….Now, Massachusetts plans to pursue “separately managed accounts” in which the state, rather than invest in existing hedge funds, would hire an account manager who invests the money in the state’s name, giving the state more control over, and potentially lower, fees….Siedle, noting moves in California and elsewhere to shift from hedge funds, questioned why Raimondo would stand by that strategy when financial figures, such as billionaire Warren Buffett, are recommending against it….

In Turnabout, N.Y. Moves to Shut Troubled Rehab Clinic

Source: Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, May 1, 2014

Records show state officials knew for years about problems at New York Service Network, including allegations of overbilling and violations of patients’ rights exposed by a ProPublica investigation….ProPublica has now learned that the agency is moving to revoke NYSN’s license. In a Feb. 11 letter and report to NYSN’s owner, the agency explains what investigators found. The agency’s report lists six separate categories of violations, ranging from infringing on patient rights to failing to determine what treatment they needed. Patients were required to attend at least five counseling sessions a week regardless of their individual clinical needs. The inspectors found cookie-cutter treatment plans in the files they reviewed instead of plans tailored to individual patients. Program notes were incomplete or not consistent with actual patient experiences….
Inside a New York Drug Clinic, Allegations of Kickbacks and Shoddy Care
Source: Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, September 9, 2013

…A ProPublica examination of New York Service Network (NYSN) and the taxpayer-financed system that sustains it shows that Imbert’s experience isn’t unique. In New York, a lack of affordable housing gives sober-home landlords extraordinary power over their residents, who often are forced to attend specific outpatient treatment programs that can be of dubious quality. It’s a system that victimizes not only alcoholics and addicts — making an already challenging recovery more difficult — but taxpayers who pick up the tab.

Outpatient addiction treatment for the poor has become a mainstay of the social safety net, costing the federal, state and local governments $6.7 billion in 2009, the most recent figure available. The money pays for an estimated 1.5 million admissions a year, nearly three-fourths of them to outpatient programs like NYSN’s, according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. …

…In Massachusetts, authorities have won convictions against sober-home employees who were sending residents to get drug tests at a company that paid kickbacks to the homes. In South Florida, a federal task force last year prosecuted halfway house operators who accepted illicit payments for sending patients to clinics for unneeded procedures. And in July, California halted payments to 16 centers amid reports by CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting about phony billing.

Oversight of outpatient centers is mainly left to states, which typically perform inspections and paperwork audits but don’t necessarily delve deeply into clinic operations. Patient outcomes are self-reported by clinics, and counselors often lack medical training and are poorly paid. Clinics generally are compensated on a fee-for-service basis, creating an incentive to bill for as many visits as possible. …

…When it comes to New York Service Network, former employees have filed complaints with regulators alleging falsification of records, padding of counseling sessions or payment of kickbacks to secure a steady stream of patients. Their claims track with some of Imbert’s experiences as a patient over five months, and with records in her patient file describing counseling sessions that she said never occurred.

Lazar Feygin, the doctor who owns NYSN, adamantly denied paying kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals. He also disputed allegations by Imbert and former employees, who said counseling records were sometimes fabricated so NYSN could justify its billings to the state. …

EPA fines school bus operator $33,000 for idling

Source: School Bus Fleet, May 27, 2014

School bus contractor Michael J. Connolly and Sons will implement idling-reduction measures and pay a penalty of $33,000 to settle U.S. EPA allegations that it violated vehicle idling limits. The Walpole-based company operates 300 school buses and provides student transportation services in 15 Massachusetts communities.