The current procurement system in Illinois is an overloaded bureaucracy, ripe for abuse, and Governor Bruce Rauner wants reforms to save taxpayers money, savings the governor say could help cover costs for tuition assistance grants.

“Procurement has been one of the largest sources of waste and abuse in our state,” Rauner said at a news conference Tuesday. “It’s frustrating the level of incompetence and inefficiency in the system and we really need to change this as quickly as we possibly can.”

Republican Senator Chapin Rose provided an example of waste where bidders for a prescription drug contract worth $3 billion were thrown out multiple times under the state procurement code. Rose said a procurement officer wasn’t sure if the state got the best value for taxpayers.

“That’s a $3 billion contract,” Rose said. “That’s insane.”

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One measure, House Bill 4644 from Republican Representative Dan Brady, would make the chief procurement officer the director of Central Management Services, or his or her designee.

Rauner pointed out other states only have one chief procurement officer while Illinois has four.

“They set up their own rules, they set up their own regulations, they set up their own fiefdoms,” Rauner said, “and then we’ve also got a Procurement Policy Board. They also set up their rules, regulations, policies, they have the ability to void contracts.”

Speaker Michael Madigan Spokesman Steve Brown said they’ll take a look at the proposal, “but we’ll go to the Procurement Policy Board to offer an analysis.”

Brown said the current procurement policy was put in place because of previous procurement scandals under both Republican and Democratic governors.

The proposed reforms touted by the governor also includes allowing the state’s auditor general to conduct spot checks of procurement.

Meanwhile Rauner says the proposed reforms could save taxpayers more than half-a-billion dollars a year, money that could fund Monetary Award Program grants.

“If we did procurement reform,” Rauner said, “then we’ll have the money to fund our MAP grants. In fact we’ll have more than enough money to fund our MAP grants.”   

Brown said MAP grants were funded in the governor’s original budget, “so we’ll just stick with that funding source.”

Leading Democrats in the legislature and the governor are at odds over a measure Democrats say will fund MAP grants while the governor said there’s no funding source for the bill.


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