Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bill Crawford: Standards? What standards?

Did you read Geoff Pender's terrific column "Take some aspirin before searching Transparency Mississippi website" in the Clarion-Ledger? If transparency in government spending matters to you, this is a must read.

Pender pointed to non-transparent disclosures on the transparency site by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, then said, "Apparently, they don't feel like telling the public squat about their travel. So they don't."

Then Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant was a champion for passage of the 2008 law creating www.transparency.mississippi.gov, noted Pender.

Now Bryant is Governor, but agencies under him are callously subverting transparency in government spending.

Not good.

Oh, Pender outed several subverters, including Superintendent of Education Carey Wright and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, but they aren't under Bryant's authority like Medicaid and the Department of Banking and Consumer Affairs.

The main culprit targeted by Pender was state Medicaid Director Dr. David Dzielak. Pender wrote: "When Dzielak travels out of state, and he does so frequently, he lists the destination as 'out of state travel.' He lists the title of the meeting or seminar as 'office of executive services' whatever the heck that means. He lists the meeting purpose for all his trips as 'Any out of state meetings and/or activities pertaining to the office of executive services."

"Why thank you for sharing, Dr. Dzielak," exclaimed Pender, who added, "most in Dzielak's agency appear to follow his lead."

This isn't Dzielak's only variance from open government standards that Gov. Bryant has championed.

Following the disclosure of corruption in contracts issued by the Department of Corrections, Bryant called for strict standards and transparency in government contracting and signed major improvements pushed by Rep. Jerry Turner. One key change was revamping the Personal Service Contract Review Board to provide more independent and professional oversight of government contracts.

In late June, Dzielak prematurely signed a protested $2 billion Medicaid contract, skipping the contract review process altogether. The awarding of Medicaid's MississippiCAN managed care contract is now the subject of a lawsuit and legislator protests

"DOM's (Department of Medicaid's) actions, first in failing to adhere to the terms of the RFP, and then in moving forward to implement its awards despite the pending protests, violate numerous mandatory statutory and regulatory requirements, and constitute a fundamental departure from the fair and unbiased administration of the procurement process for the MississippiCAN program, which again, is one of, if not the largest, public procurements in the State's history," the complaint stated.

Various news reports said many legislators question Medicaid's rush to execute the contract without review.

Intriguingly, Medicaid's website highlights its commitment to "fair and equitable" contracting and states it will evaluate proposals in accordance with "provisions of the State Personal Service Contract Review Board." PSCRB guidelines show Medicaid subject to its purview. However, a Medicaid attorney said insurance contracts do require review by the board. There is no such exception in the statute establishing the PSCRB.

"It should have gone before the review board," said Rep. Turner.

Do the Governor's appointees not give a squat his standards? Perhaps the Governor should sit Dzielak and other subverters down and find out why.

Crawford is syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe Bill ought to do a little investigative reporting before he sounds off - basing his bitch for the week on the totally inadequate 'reporring' being done by his compatriots at the CL. As someone that likes to lay claim to the creation of DFA, he surely could learn from then what the process is when they get the data from an agency. And it wouldn't have been too hard for him to call DOM and ask what info they provide to DFA for reimbursement.

But no - wrote 700 words to meet the contractual requirement of bitching about state government administration.

Anonymous said...

4:57 pm If you wish to be persuasive in your criticism of the content of this article, you should explain the data process. I can't evem be sure if you are defending the process or attacking it.
All I can glean at this point, is that I don't know, as a taxpayer, what was actually spent on travel by Dr. Dzieklak or DOM ( which at least was explained as Dept. of Medicaid in the piece).
That suggests to me that the process is not intended to inform the public with clarity.
It seems to me that you, like so many who comment, are more interested in attacking the messenger rather than the message. In doing so, you lose those who aren't already biased in your favor. Those of us who put our State and Nation ahead of party loyalty are not impressed.

Anonymous said...

Ok 7:46 I will try to explain. Crawford piece based his argument that DOM was not transparent in their spending on travel on an article published in the CL, trying to make the point that DOM and other agencies are not adequately documenting their expenditures.

But the CL article failed to properly investigate their claim. It appears that the website maintained by DFA has flaws in that it doesn't include details that agencies such as DOM provide with their payment requests. If the CL -and Crawford - actually practiced good journalism they should have at least asked DOM for a statem.entry before publishing such accusations. They would have then learned that the details that Hall, and then Crawford, claim are being hidden by the agency were not hidden but fully available. Ergo the problem was not with DOM hiding the info but it was with the Transparency website.

Want to bitch about a problem - then do so about the website development -a DFA issue. But instead they wanted to point fingers at DOM.

And why? Because the CL has decided to tote the MS Hospital Assn water in complaING about their not being awarded the 2 billion contract to process payment from DOM to ---the hospitals.


It appears that the agencies do document their expenses, travel and otherwise, with purpose, place, etc for each travel expense. But from reading the CL article, which was the only source for Bills column, you read damming statements of what is made to be exorbant travel expenditures with the purpose of the travel hidden from the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

All of these demonstrably false attacks on Medicaid are coming directly or indirectly from the Ms. Hospital Association. This the same group that tried to kill managed care in the legislature and failed. They do not want anyone regulating hospitals but hospitals. That way they can continue to rip off sick people with emergency room costs, uneccesary tests and by burying their mistakes. They came in sixth out of seven in their proposal for Medicaid's RFP managed care bid, and are now desperately trying to maintain their disappearing credibility and relevance. Sour grapes! One must wonder if the participating hospitals were told that they signed up for falsely and publicly accusing people of corruption. Did they authorize their association to make false and defamatory statements about a fair process and honest people.

Be clear, Ms. True is simply a front for the hospital association's dishonest and political bid to take over managed care and have the foxes guarding the henhouse. Time to pull the covers back on those who are pushing this fake news narrative aimed at overturning a fair decision by Medicaid in order to payback their political donors. That is where the corruption is to be found here for those who are looking. While applauding any effort to uncover corruption this writer offers a little advice; don't miss the forest while looking for trees.

Anonymous said...

Understand this. Though basically a good fellow, Bill Crawford is a stooge for Mississippi hospitals. Everything he writes must be evaluated through the lens of that understanding. Fact. http://www.andersonregional.org/AndersonLeadership.aspx

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but didn't DFA respond to Department of Medicaid claims and say that the transparency website would be fine if they would code the travel requests correctly? In fact, I believe a letter was written and sent to the C-L about this very issue.

As someone who 'lays claim to the creation of DFA' -- surely you did your research before mouthing off?

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