Bill restricts consultant hiring
April 30, 2009
The Nevada Assembly voted Wednesday for a bill aimed at blocking unwarranted use of high-priced consultants by state government agencies.
Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said her AB463, now moving to the state Senate for final legislative action, is needed to “ensure every tax dollar is being spent in the most effective and cost-efficient way.”
Smith said that while working on the bill she discovered that many state agency contracts, going back several years and adding up to millions of dollars, had been made without sufficient accountability or oversight.
The lawmaker also said she attended a workshop run by state-hired consultants where participants made collages from magazines. “It was a good thing the scissors were blunted because I was really irate,” she told fellow Assembly members.
Smith has said she got e-mails from constituents complaining about consultants who are paid two or three times more than salaried employees, which prompted her to introduce AB463. She also said the state had hired back some retirees at “virtually the same time” that they left their jobs.
AB463 would impose restrictions on hiring of some consultants, require detailed reports on the use of consultants by state agencies, call for audits of the contracts, and impose a one-year cooling-off period before a former state employee could be hired as a consultant.
During a hearing earlier this month, state Controller Kim Wallin told lawmakers that a review of hundreds of consultants who have held government contracts shows many are now state workers ” and eight with current contracts also were getting regular state paychecks.
Wallin said the review involved contracts held by 780 individuals, including 300 now working for the state. The controller said the eight staffers included one with a “professional services” contract for $600,000 over a four-year period.
A former employee had a contract with the state Insurance Division for $4 million over a 9-month period, Wallin said, adding that the contract could have been for a group of individuals working for the person with the contract.