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Maryland. Juvenile Justice Issues $171 Million in No Bid Contracts

November 18, 2010

Franchot ‘fed up’ with ‘sloppiness’ at DJS

Comptroller Peter Franchot blasted the state Department of Juvenile Services for “administrative sloppiness” that led to a request this morning for the approval of $171 million in no-bid contracts for which work has already been performed.

DJS Secretary Donald W. DeVore said he has made personnel changes and warned his agency officials of “dire consequences” if they continue to circumvent state procurement procedure. He also said he is implementing better contract tracking tools, included a color-coded “dashboard.”

“I’m fed up with it,” Franchot said, adding that DeVore has “no credible explanation for why it happened.” The multi-year contracts date to July 2008, though some were entered as recently as August of this year, and were uncovered by state auditors.

The exchange at the Board of Public Works followed an audit released last month that described procurement problems and other bureaucratic disorganization in Juvenile Services. The agency oversees juveniles charged with and found responsible for crimes and has an annual budget of about $275 million.

Franchot and fellow board member Treasurer Nancy Kopp have regularly said they detest retroactive approval requests of the sort DeVore was seeking.

Nonetheless, the board approved the $171 million expense, though Franchot voted against it. Kopp and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, sitting in for Gov. Martin O’Malley, voted in favor of the contracts.

The 61 contracts at issue are for licensed contractors to provide “residential and non-residential services” for juveniles in the court system. The services include group homes, foster care and home-based therapy.

Franchot urged DeVore to rebid the contracts in a competitive manner.

DeVore, a former federal monitor of juvenile programs, has served as DJS secretary for almost four years. Asked after the meeting whether he planned remain as secretary through O’Malley’s second term, DeVore said he was having “private conversations” with the governor about that.


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