Maine Republicans defend $1 million no-bid welfare review contract

AUGUSTA — Republicans on the Legislature's budget-writing Appropriations Committee on Thursday defended a controversial no-bid, $1 million contract with a Rhode Island company to study and issue an analysis of Maine's welfare programs.

The contract, issued to the Alexander Group, the group's CEO, Gary Alexander, and Republican Gov. Paul LePage have come under withering criticism from Democratic leaders and others in recent days over the contract issued by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and signed in September.

Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew issued a statement defending her agency's actions and Alexander's company as a credible and competent vendor.

The group, hired for $925,000, is contracted to issue a five-part series of reports and recommendations aimed at finding savings and other efficiencies in the state's welfare programs.

The first portion of the report, meant to examine the impact of a possible Medicaid expansion in Maine — had a contracted target due date of Dec. 1. While that portion of the report has yet to be delivered, Republicans seemed unfazed by the missed deadline.

"They've done similar types of analysis and work for other states — five other states, I believe it is," said state Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade. "In most of those states, they've found ways to save money in the program." 

Keschl said looking for savings in Maine's welfare system is a responsible thing to do.

"I think it's prudent to do, this type of investigation and the Alexander Group seems to have some success in the past and I think we should move forward," Keschl said.

Rep. Cathy Chase, R-Wells, said she agreed that the efforts to find fraud, waste and abuse in the state's welfare system, which consumes a large portion of the state's overall budget, made sense to her, as well.

She said the final recommendations from the Alexander Group may or may not be implemented, based on what the Legislature decides. The last portion of Alexander's report is not due until May, after the Legislature adjourns.

Adrienne Bennett, Lepage's press secretary, confirmed LePage has met twice with Gary Alexander in Augusta.

The first meeting was in March, before Alexander was awarded the contract for the work. The second meeting came in October after the contract was issued, she said. She said the first meeting with Alexander was to discuss fraud in Maine's welfare system.

Bennett said the company had been updating DHHS with verbal reports, so the notion that the consultant had missed its due date was misinformed.

"He has a track record with working with the federal government and working to receive flexibility for (Medicaid) plans that work with various states," Bennett said.

She said the decision to hire Alexander was in the hands of DHHS and that LePage was not directly involved in the contract process. She said there were no written communications between LePage's office and DHHS regarding Alexander's contract.

In her statement issued to the media via email Thursday, Mayhew said DHHS had issued other no-bid or "sole-source" contracts in the past, some for amounts larger than that paid to the Alexander Group.

"The notion that the cost of this contract is larger than most and, as such, should have gone out to bid is motivated by politics and reflects both selective and short-term memory," Mayhew said in the prepared statement. 

She noted that part of the delay on the first portion of Alexander's report was because DHHS did not produce the data he needed for his analysis in a timely manner.

"We are confident that the work completed by the Alexander Group will be of the highest quality and will be valuable as Maine continues to reform its welfare programs to make them more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable and to ensure that we are serving those who are most in need," Mayhew said.

Democrats, however, said they remained concerned and frustrated over the lack of information on how well Alexander's company was vetted and of the company's "unique qualifications" that made them eligible to receive the contract without competing for it.

"Why the need to do this no-bid, sole-source contract?" Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston asked. "Why the behind-closed-doors things? Why the choice of this group? This isn't a question about whether or not public money needs to be accounted for. It's, 'How did we spend public money and is this right?'"

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was critical of Maine's lack of research on the Alexander Group before hiring them.

Gary Alexander served as that state's secretary of its Department of Public Welfare. An audit done by DePasquale's staff that was issued in November suggested mismanagement by Alexander cost the state $7 million in increased Medicaid costs.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

No Bids should be illegal

Should be illegal on anything with taxpayers money...the feds should make it a requirement on many labor bids that there are at least three...

This needs to be changed to protect the taxpayers from corruptions and handouts to political contributors.

The people have a right to KNOW who is been vetted and are those agreed contracts of fair value ...

Change the laws to protect everyone concerned.

I see all you moon bats are

I see all you moon bats are still at it, bashing Lepages good job running Maine.

I am starting to suspect that

I am starting to suspect that Dennis is not the conservative he pretends to be. This first email after his absence is definitely facetious. I mean seriously, how can any fiscal conservative call spending $925k of OUR MONEY on a hatchet job that supports his personal views a "good job running Maine." Easy, they can't. Therefore, Dennis must be one of... well, I can't say "us" because I'm an independent not a liberal.

AL PELLETIER's picture

WOW!

You must have dug deep and eaten a lot of crow to buy a subscription. Your obviously a glutton for punishment--Thanks from all us moon bats. What a Christmas present!

He missed us, just like

He missed us, just like Gravel did.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Dennis idea of good job

Handing a GOP fake, conman a million dollars and getting two phone calls to say;, 1, I got your money, second call, Thanks sucker...

That is his definition and understanding of a good job...

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

You're boycott of the SJ

You're boycott of the SJ didn't last too long. And, "moon bats?" Perhaps you have not heard of "freedom of speech."

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Excuse me, but there IS a

Excuse me, but there IS a contract. The deadline for the first portion of the report HAS PASSED. This man is being paid to do a JOB. He is being paid with TAXPAYER MONEY, therefore he WORKS for the people of the state. He is obviously NOT doing his JOB per the contract stipulations. As an employer I WANT ANSWERS before he gets another dime and before he continues on the JOB.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Hey it's OK............

According to LePages mouth piece Adrienne, the Governor is being updated verbally so the report isn't really late. I swear to God she really said that, and I'm going out on a limb here, she may actually think that a phone call, satisfies his contractual obligations........................

You know, I never thought I

You know, I never thought I would miss Gravel and his relentlessly self-centered one-note trolling for attention. Pirate's just not as much fun to mock because he takes it so well.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Don't look now, Wayne

The idiot is back and trolling. Ref: today's editorial.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Yup, and Dennis as well...........

Ya, the gangs all here, just in time for Christmas.

Um.... yay? I should

Um.... yay? I should remember that old adage about being careful what you wish for...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Self centered is mild

The man is so full of himself he would deny and starve his own to have more for himself.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Why are Adrienne's comments more confusing than the Governors???

She said, LePage met with Andrews twice in August. First in October, again in September. I'm not sure what if any relevance that has, I just thought it was odd.
Since when can you duplicate and disperse a verbal report. If I could have turned all my college reports in by phone, I would have made strait A's. The million dollar report is now eleven days late, this doesn't raise any flags?
Rep. Keschl says in several states Andrews has found fraud, unfortunately in the other states Andrews has committed fraud, millions of dollars worth.
This whole thing stinks, I can't see anything but fraud all over this one........

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Better name for it...INCOMPETENCY

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was critical of Maine's lack of research on the Alexander Group before hiring them.

INCOMPETENCY, laziness, stupidity, poor leadership all around is the best way to explain DHHS, CDC, but the largest yet, the entire LePage Administration.

FOLLOW THE MONEY.......

There needs to be a Federal Investigation and hold these individuals personally accountability to the fullest extent of the law.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Nice try Adrienne

But you fell short. Coming out of a meeting this past week your boss said to a channel 6 reporter that he had no knowledge of the Alexander group.
That boss of yours is turning you into a bold faced liar just like he is.
To bad---- your kinda cute.
Oh, by the way. Gary Alexander advertises he has offices in five states and has those office addresses on his corporate letterheads. Other then Rhode Island those addresses are all vacant store fronts or PO boxes with no working staff.
How come I can find these things out about this shyster but Mayhew and Lepage can't? Could it be that all they want is re-election ammunition at our expense?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Bingo

The man and his staff are all lying chicken chitliars...

DONALD FERLAND's picture

But Republicans were also

But Republicans were also dismissive of the Pennsylvania audit, noting the increased costs were puny in comparison. $7 million is puny? Since when?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Since

it is not out of their pockets or their state paychecks and benefits packages...to them that is chicken scratch and if you look real close you can sell all of those repub/tbaggers in those white tiny specks inside that chicken chit...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Mary Mayhew and Rep. Cathy Chase, R-Wells with will be saying

they support it all the way whistling past the grave yard and on they way to the slammer.

LePage claims he didn't know him and now the press secretary said they met twice...

the cover up begins....

Paul you still are a big liar like back in Lewiston , you'll never change your spots...

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Confidence

Wow ! Somebody has confidence that Mahew is doing an excellent job in vetting this group. Well maybe the Easter Bunny is real too. Personally I am confident this group will spend our million and come back with a report repeating everything Mahew and Lepage have said already hundreds of times. This is just cronyism, corruption and a waste of our tax money.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I guess it's how the tale is told.......

In reading these articles regarding the Andrews Group, more specifically the different Representatives comments on the firm. I too wondered when one of these Rep's would fess up to also beleiving in Easter Bunny or Santa. This whole thing is starting to resemble a "Looney Tunes" cartoon...........................

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