As part of his legislative package calling on accountability, transparency, and integrity in the state government's procurement process, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) announces that Senate Bill 1271 (SB 1271) passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee this Thursday.
SB 1271 would add accountability and transparency to the extension or renewal of no-bid contracts over $75 million by requiring state agencies to submit information on the terms and conditions of the contracts to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The Committee would then have the information necessary to conduct oversight hearings if needed before renewals or extensions.
“Transparency is non-partisan. No-bid state contracts should never become the norm, and when they are deemed necessary, there must be strict accountability to prevent waste, fraud and abuse,” said Wilk. “This bill is key in helping restore the public’s confidence in the contracting process.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, state agencies have entered into nearly $12 billion in no-bid contracts for various pandemic-related goods or services. This bill was in response to a variety of concerns surrounding the state’s increasing use of no-bid contracts, including the auto-renewal of an unprecedented $1.7 billion contract with PerkinElmer for the state’s much-maligned and dysfunctional COVID-19 testing lab known as the Valencia Branch Laboratory (VBL). Sacramento CBS 13 exposed the failures at the VBL over the course of the past year through multiple investigative stories.
Senate Republicans’ relentless demand for accountability and transparency resulted in the Newsom administration “quietly” notifying PerkinElmer that its contract was canceled earlier this year, but this is after the administration auto-renewed the contract in October despite Republican objections and calls for the release of an investigative report on the troubling deficiencies at the state-funded COVID lab conducted by the administration.
SB 1271 now heads to the Assembly floor for a vote and when it passes the Assembly, it will return to the Senate floor for a vote on concurrence before heading to the Governor’s desk for a signature or veto.