No-Bid Spending Up 24%, Tulsa World Investigation Shows

  • Joe Wertz

Spending by state agencies on no-bid contracts increased 24 percent from fiscal years 2010 to 2011, a Tulsa World investigation has revealed.

The paper’s Curtis Killman reports that about 74 state agencies issued 1,376 no-bid contracts worth about $126 million in FY 2011:

Contracts were issued without bids for items ranging from $48,000 for photocopiers to $2 million for out-of-state schooling for special education students, a Tulsa World analysis of state reports shows.

All of the no-bid purchases were lawful under Oklahoma’s “sole source” or “sole brand” provisions, the World reported, but required justification letters were “woefully lacking in detail,” according to the paper.

The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services “consistently led” other agencies in sole-source spending, the World reported.

Rounding out the World’s 2011 sole-source contracts list:

  1. Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services: $42 million
  2. Human Services: $14.6 million
  3. Education: $14 million
  4. Commerce: $6.6 million
  5. Public Safety: $5.3 million
  6. Health: $4.2 million

The World examined Office of State Finance records from 2007-2011. The paper has compiled the records in a searchable database. The paper found that sole-source contracts peaked at $142.6 million in FY 2009, declined to $101 million in FY 2010 and increased again this fiscal year.

The OSF defended the increase:

“Sometimes complex contracts start off being competitively bid, but wind up continuing as a sole source because it would be more expensive to start over,” the agency’s spokesman, Ron Jenkins, said in an email.