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Lt. Gov. Roberts to Introduce Legislation to Close "Lucas Group Loophole"

Bill would prevent state payment for goods and services unless state purchasing rules are followed

PROVIDENCE--- Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts today announced legislation that would close the “Lucas Group loophole,” which allowed $370,000 in payments to a company that never had a contract with the state.

“I was shocked to learn that a company that offered services voluntarily to the state, that never went through an open, public bidding process, and never had a contract from the state, was able to turn around and secure payment and the state had no recourse,” said Roberts. “This bill will ensure that this scenario will not happen again.”

The Lucas Group, a Boston-based consulting firm, had been engaged in what was described as a “voluntary” agreement to provide advice and guidance in the development of the Global Medicaid Waiver that was approved last January. The Lucas Group subsequently demanded payment for their “voluntary” services. Since that time, a settlement was reached and the State Office of Health and Human Services paid $370,000 for services that were rendered without a contract and without following state purchasing procedures.

The legislation, sponsored by Representative Joy Hearn (D- Barrington, East Providence) and Senator Joshua Miller (D- Cranston, Warwick), would increase penalties, including fines and termination, for a state employee or official who engages a vendor or accepts goods or services without following proper purchasing procedures. The bill would also prevent a vendor from collecting any payment for goods and services rendered outside of the state purchasing process, thereby insuring that state money will not be spent to pay vendors when purchasing laws are not followed.

“This legislation supports greater transparency in all government programs, and I am happy to be working with Lt. Governor Roberts on this,” said Representative Hearn. “An open process can only benefit all parties involved,” said Senator Miller.

Roberts added, “I am grateful to Representative Hearn and Senator Miller for joining me to close this loophole. Particularly at a time when our government is cutting millions from education and social service programs, we cannot afford a loophole that permits funneling money to companies that have subverted the purchasing laws.”

H-7410 has been referred to the House Committee on Finance. S-2626 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

Related links

Department or agency: Elizabeth Roberts, Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Online: http://www.ltgov.state.ri.us/

Release date: 03-11-2010

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