News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2007
Contact:Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

Senate Finance Committee Approves SB 769 by Zaffirini to Improve State Contracting Practices

Austin, TX -- The Senate Finance Committee today (Monday) recommended passage of Senate Bill 769 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which significantly would improve the processes by which state agencies solicit, negotiate, enter into and manage contracts with vendors.

"Texas has endured costly problems and multiple controversies regarding high-profile state contracts during the last few years," Senator Zaffirini said. "We need improved oversight and accountability in our state contracting procedures, and this bill improves the way in which Texas enters into contracts so we can avoid mistakes that could lead to additional serious breakdowns in state services."

SB 769 would subject major state contracts to a rigorous review process prior to its approval by using Governmental in Nature (GIN) analyses. What's more, the bill would expand the training processes for employees involved in contracting, improve contract reporting mechanisms for state agencies, require needed provisions to address amendments and address ethical issues specific to contracting.

In March Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins announced the state's gradual withdrawal from its health and social services contract with Accenture's Texas Access Alliance. This occurred after investigations and audits conducted by the State comptroller revealed that eligible persons were being denied health services.

SB 769 would establish stronger review processes and safeguards prior to a state contract's approval and ensure that contractors perform outsourced duties and activities at the highest and most efficient quality levels.

PHOTO

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-LAREDO, lays out Senate Bill 769 before the Senate Finance Committee. SB 769 would improve the process by which state agencies conduct contracting procedures. Zaffirini has served as vice chair of Senate Finance since 2003 and as a member since 1991.

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