JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s state auditor blasted changes to the state’s contracting process, urging the governor to veto a bill sent to his desk in a letter sent to him Thursday.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway challenged Gov. Mike Parson to take steps to establish “greater integrity in Missouri’s contracting process.”
“I am writing this letter to ask that you join me in cleaning up Jefferson City’s culture of corruption,” wrote Galloway, who is expected to announce her bid for governor in the coming weeks.
The issue for Galloway is provisions added on, and truly agreed and finally passed, as part of HB 1088, otherwise known as the Million Dollar Boondoggle Act of 2019. Under the original bill, championed by Rep. Dan Houx, the Office of Administration (OA) will be required to construct a public report — to be published online — on specific projects that are either at least one year behind schedule or at least $1 million over budget to the General Assembly.
Galloway raises concerns about provisions changing the request for proposal (RFP) process. The legislation upped the threshold from $25,000 to $100,000 for advertising and soliciting bids for state projects. It also authorizes departments to purchase products and services related to information technology up to $150,00, an increase from the previous threshold of $100,000.
Proponents of the RFP changes argued they were necessary to keep up with inflation and streamline the process to work more efficiently.
“This legislation shrinks the pool of competitive contracts available to Missouri businesses and individuals, reduces the number of bids required to be publicly advertised, and no longer requires state government to advertise bids publicly unless the contract is $100,000 or greater,” Galloway said. “Perhaps the most concerning, slipped in was a provision for ‘the use of shortlisting’ of contract proposals with no parameters for when shortlisting should be considered, making its potential use discretionary to all state contracts.”
Parson has until July 14 to veto the bill if he so chooses.
Galloway also asked the governor to consider issuing an executive order using legislation she has backed in previous years. SB 148, dubbed the Transparency in Government Contracting Act, was referred to committee, but no hearing ever held.
Galloway is pushing for a requirement for any person or company entering into a state contract for more than $5,000 to disclose annual payments greater than $500 made to 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization, no later than the effective date of the contract. Additionally, anyone with more than a 10 percent interest in the contracting company would be required to disclose payments greater than $500 to such a not-for-profit.
“These reforms are simple steps to establishing greater integrity in Missouri’s contracting process,” she noted.
Galloway, the lone statewide elected Democrat, was originally appointed as state auditor by then-Gov. Jay Nixon following the death of Tom Schweich. She was elected to the same position in November 2018.
During her time in office she has continuously pushed for accountability measures, going so far as to create a division dedicated to Public Corruption and Fraud in January 2019.
The Missouri Times has learned Galloway has begun preparations for a 2020 gubernatorial run, calling donors and union leaders to alert potential supporters of her plans. Her official campaign kick-off is rumored to be held as early as July 1.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.