Written by T. Logan Dayne
Continuing a trend that lacks transparency in California, Newsom’s administration has greatly increased the number of no-bid contracts. A no-bid contract is a government contract that bypasses the process of bidding. The lack of competition allows for greater squandering of the money being used and tends to lead to wasteful, and sometimes corrupt, practices. Many of these no-bid contracts in California are set to renew automatically and because these are now being outsourced to businesses unaccountable to the people of the state, they lack a great deal of transparency. If an individual would like to know where their tax dollars are being spent, good luck.
California alone in 2020 went from pouring $25 million into roughly 8,000 no-bid contracts to $12 Billion by the end of the year. To highlight the potential of “what could go wrong?”$1.7 billion was contracted to the Valencia Branch Laboratory for COVID-19 tests. Just a few short months later, claims of fraud and waste came out of the lab thanks to a whistleblower. California residents would be prudent to ask themselves why they hadn’t heard of this. More of these are set to come to pass as Newsom now wants to award these no-bid contracts to unnamed third-party vendors to provide rebates to Californians. This is because of the gas prices which they pay, the highest in the nation, which are set to increase in July as attempts from Republicans in the state to delay the mandatory gas price hike have been shut down by California Democrats. In light of all this, there are new bills to bring legislation to bring accountability to this process, SB 947, SB 1271, and SB 1367. All of these bills have been introduced by the Republican Senate Leader Scott Wilk.
SB 947 is targeted at protecting whistleblowers of state government contracts by providing them the protection afforded to state workers. This is so accusations of fraud, waste, or abuse can be brought to light like that of the Valencia Branch Laboratory. This lab is currently in the process of suing the whistleblower who brought to light their fraud. This has already received full support from the National Whistleblowers Center. SB 1271 would require no-bid contracts of $25 million or more to be subject to oversight of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee prior to renewal to prevent continued waste. Lastly, SB 1367 would prohibit the state from awarding contracts that have made “contributions” to or on behalf of the governor for in the past 12 months. Transparency is a non-partisan issue. These bills aim to bring accountability to the citizens of California.