A state lawmaker wants stricter oversight of state contracts. Cost overruns and suspended contracts with private vendors have led a legislator to conclude that there needs to be more oversight and accountability, when it comes to the use of outside contractors for state projects. “We really don’t know how many contractors and consultants are working for state government, and how much it’s costing us,” says state Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point).

Lasa says that while contracting out work has saved the state money in many instances, there have been enough high profile problems to warrant stricter controls. “Right now, I don’t think we have enough information,” says Lassa. “We’re making assumptions . . . and in some cases it’s costing the state a lot of money, and we’re not getting good product back.”

In a press release, Lassa said she developed the proposal in response to numerous reports, including a 2009 Legislative Audit Bureau study of DOT contractor use, which show that taxpayers frequently pay much more for services performed by private contractors and consultants than they would if the work were done by state employees. She also said lax oversight of some private contractors is compromising the quality of work funded by taxpayer dollars.

“We think that, in the end, this is going to be a cost saving measure,” Lassa says. “We’re going to be putting performance measures in place to make sure that standard are being met.” The bill (SB 447) was approved this week by a Senate committee, and Lassa is hopeful it will come to a Senate floor vote before the end of the current legislative session.

 AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60 MP3) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60 MP3)

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