Bowser Admin Pitches Bill to Work Around D.C. Contract Judge’s Ruling

Bizar Male

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Wayne Turnage is pitching the D.C. Council on a bill that would carve out an exemption to the District’s contracting law for three healthcare-related contracts. The bill would apply to three contracts worth over $1.5 billion and is an attempt to avoid the effects of Contract Appeals Board Judge Nicholas Majett‘s ruling issued in August 2020.

The Office of Contracting and Procurement has apparently been violating contracting law for several years by allowing applicants to submit incomplete subcontracting plans in their initial applications. OCP has allowed bidders to amend those plans later in the process. Majett ruled they can’t do that and said full subcontracting plans that include a minimum 35 percent set-aside for local businesses must be submitted with a firm’s initial application or it will be disqualified.

The three contracts involve D.C.’s Medicaid program, the District of Columbia Access System, which evaluates residents’ eligibility for healthcare and other public benefits, and the Medicaid management information system, the contract at issue in Majett’s ruling. A spokesperson for the Contract Appeals Board declined to comment.

Turnage argues that the vendors who submitted proposals for the three contracts did so according to OCP’s practices. They shouldn’t be penalized because the agency wasn’t following the law, he insists.

If the bill is not approved, Turnage says, Majett’s ruling would disrupt the solicitations and in some cases the work that’s already in progress. Disruption in the Medicaid contract, for example, means about 67,000 members would be forced to change health plans for the second time in one year.

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