Categories
Featured NewsTracker

Pody Questions State’s Contract to Outsource Motor Pool

An inquiry into contract outsourcing for the management of the state’s motor pool to Enterprise Rent-A-Car has left one state representative with more questions than answers.

And those answers may not come for another month Mark Pody, who sits on the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Review Committee, told TNReport.com.

Rep. Pody had said on Monday that he’d been told by state Department of General Services staff to expect more specific answers Tuesday. However, that didn’t happen, he said.

“I believe they’re giving me general information where I want more specific information, and I want to see where it’s documented and backed up,” said the Republican from Lebanon.

“Everything has been postponed until they come up in Fiscal Review to review the contracts next month,” Pody told TNReport.com Tuesday afternoon.

Fiscal Review is one of a handful of General Assembly committees that meet year-round. The committee convenes on the second Monday of each month. The next meeting will be July 8.

“I’m not comfortable with the stuff they’ve given me already,” said Pody, who is in his second term. “I’ve got to make them tell me why they believe it’s one way and the contract clearly says its something different.”

Pody, who owns a small company specializing in financial planning, said he was made aware of the contract — which he calls “not good business” — by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 Chief Investigative Reporter Phil Williams.

“We want transparency in government that we know that our taxpayer dollar is being spent wisely, openly and everybody can follow through,” he told TNReport.com, something he doesn’t feel is happening with the Enterprise contract.

“I just see what’s in the contract and what’s being done is two separate entities. I’m not getting the answers that I’m looking for yet.”

Since Gov. Bill Haslam was elected to office in 2010, General Services Commissioner Steve Cates, a Brentwood developer, has overseen the transfer of certain state jobs and services to private companies,

Among these transfers was the state motor pool in 2011 when the Department of General Services decided to outsource the program to Enterprise and its car-sharing program called WeCar.

Around the same time, former Enterprise executive Kathleen Hansen was hired by Cates to head the department’s motor vehicle management division

According to a General Services’ internal memo, the state contract was not put out for bid for three reasons. First, the General Services memo seeking approval stated that “there is insufficient time to create the Request for Information, hold a pre-bid, create an Event, solicit bids, evaluate bids and award a contract by Jan. 1, 2012.”

Second, the memo stated that, “The rental of cars has not been solicited by the Purchasing Division in the past; therefore it does not have experience in developing the specifications.”

Lastly, the memo stated the state would it “piggy-back” on the “University of Tennessee’s WeCar” program, which was put out for public bid.

However, a statement submitted to NewsChannel 5 Investigates reads: “The University of Tennessee does not have a WeCar program,” but instead has a rental discount program with Enterprise for university employees and alumni only.

The UT motor pool has not been outsourced.

This statement, as well as the fact that the state’s contract calls for a fleet of 80 vehicles, but as of Tuesday only had 56 cars in it, causes Pody grave concern.

“The contract clearly calls for a minimum of 80 cars, and that’s what the state’s suppose to be paying for on a monthly basis,” Pody told TNReport.com Tuesday. “As of today, there’s only 56, and I cannot find any documentation where Enterprise or anybody else has agreed that we only pay for 56.

“There’s no paper trail to verify it. There’s just not. I don’t want us to get a bill at some point when this contract ends that says, ‘You’ve been paying now for $6 and the difference is some 20 cars.”

Additionally, Pody said while the “contract specifically calls for hourly rates in three separate spots,” General Services tells him there is no hourly rate. Instead, the state pays the daily rate of $31.33 and a weekly rate of $184.85, $26.60 more than the state of Oklahoma’s rate of $158.35.

Pody said he intends to ask his questions at the next Fiscal Review Committee meeting so he can go on record as having asked them in a public meeting.

Specifically, he wants to see the paper trail regarding the reduction of the fleet size, as well as written documentation explaining how much this has saved the state versus operating its own motor pool. He also wants a detailed explanation regarding the discrepancies between the UT statement and that of General Services regarding the “piggy-back” of the university’s contract.

Pody said he hopes to have some answers next week, well before the next Fiscal Review Committee meeting.

“It’s just me. I’ve got a month to finish getting my stuff together before they come before Fiscal Review,” he said.

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at amhipps@downhomepolitics.com, on Twitter @DwnHomePolitics or at 615-442-8667.

Categories
Press Releases

Top-to-Bottom Review Sparks Merger Of Property Divisions

Press Release from the Department of Finance and Administration; July 28, 2011: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s top-to-bottom review of state government is resulting in greater efficiency and cost savings in state property management with the merger of two closely-related state divisions. Real Property Administration will be combined with Property Services Management in the Department of General Services. To date, Real Property has been located in Finance & Administration.

“An effective state government is one that provides core services, is responsive to citizens and operates at the lowest possible cost,” Haslam said. “The benefits of merging these two areas became obvious to us early in our review to achieve more effective service and upkeep of state properties, and ultimately significant cost savings in state operations.”

In his inaugural address, the governor pledged to conduct a top to bottom review of each state department to set priorities and establish measurable goals. He called on each cabinet member to take a hard look at state operations to ensure that the best service is being delivered in the most efficient manner.

“Governor Haslam challenged me to really look at overhauling the way we manage our real estate assets, and this structural change is simply the beginning of that process,” General Services Commissioner Steve Cates said. “It just makes sense to bring together people whose duties are so closely related, and I know we’ll see positive results in short order.”

Real Property Administration, with 63 full-time positions, is responsible for all capital improvements and construction, serving to develop the state’s capital initiatives and real property assets. It is the implementation arm of the State Building Commission, responsible for all capital improvements. Property Services Management has 189 employees and operates, manages, and maintains state facilities. The division also administers comprehensive policies and procedures for the management of state-owned and leased facilities statewide.

“From the very beginning of his administration, Governor Haslam charged us to look for ways to be more effective and efficient,” Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes said. “Commissioner Cates’ strong real estate background brings significant value to this process, and we will all work to help make this a successful transition.”

The Department of General Services facilitates the operation of state government in the areas of procurement, facility management, motor vehicle and equipment management, postal services, warehousing, records management and similar services.

There are 16 state office building complexes across Tennessee, with 376 leased buildings and 135 state-owned buildings.

Categories
Press Releases

Cates Named Commissioner of TN Dept. of General Services by Gov. Haslam

Press Release from Gov. Bill Haslam, Jan. 14, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam today named Steve Cates Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of General Services.

The Department of General Services operates the functions of state government, including building management, printing and photographic services, food services, records management, warehousing and procurement.

Cates has been a partner in Cates-Kottas Development since 1991, helping to build some of Middle Tennessee’s most beautiful neighborhoods.

“I’m excited that Steve Cates will join our team because I believe his management skills will serve Tennesseans well as he heads General Services,” Haslam said. “With Tennesseans figuring out how to be more efficient at home, we as a state government must do the same, and Steve is the right man for that job.”

Cates just completed serving as Chairman of the National Home Builders Association Political Action Committee, having previously served as Fundraising Chair. He is the current President of the Home Builders Association of Tennessee and past Governmental Affairs Chairman for the association.

He served for two years on the 21st Judicial District Drug Court of Williamson County and was a member of the Nashville Ballet Board. He remains on the Junior Achievement Board of Directors.

He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Civil Engineering and served on fundraising committees for Auburn including the Legends Campaign Committee. He previously served on the Athletic Department Advisory Board and now serves on the Auburn University Engineering Council.

“I’m honored that Gov.-elect Bill Haslam has selected me to be a part of this highly skilled team,” Cates said. “I look forward to taking a business-like approach to government and trying to operate it more efficiently and effectively.”

Cates, 47, is married to Lyn. They attend Brentwood Baptist Church.

A photo of Cates can be obtained here.

For more information, please visit www.billhaslam.org.