Lawmakers Look at Ways to Improve State Contract Rules

Source: Rebecca Boone, Associated Press, October 15, 2015

A group of lawmakers looking for ways to improve Idaho’s contract system has pulled together a long list of possibilities, including increased training for contract managers, the creation of new ethics policies and whether agencies should be able to opt out of statewide purchasing agreements. … The committee is examining the state’s contracting system in the wake of several scandals, including an illegally awarded $60 million school broadband contract that was voided by a judge earlier this year. They are tasked with making the system airtight against future scandals, while still keeping it accessible enough to attract the companies that provide paper, gasoline or other goods to state agencies. … Idaho also lacks an ethics commission or any set ethics policies surrounding the contracting process, Burns noted. Jeremy Chou, an attorney and lobbyist who represents several state contract holders and bidders, also urged lawmakers to adopt an ethics policy with guidelines on how to deal with conflicts of interest, the use of confidential information and kickbacks.