A recent article discusses an important issue in public pension and health plans — a lack of transparency. I realize this topic is a change from my normal posts discussing personal injury issues such as car accidents and work comp claims. But, it’s an important issue. It’s one important to Alabama. And, it’s one I’ve explored in a recent case representing a local healthcare business in Alabama with significant damages.
While the article discusses public plans in Kentucky, the issues also apply in Alabama. Some of our public plans have similar problems. What are two of the transparency problems we’ve discovered in our case? They are:
- Conflicts Of Interest: Let’s face it – health and pension plans involve complex issues. So, the State often employs “consultants” with expertise in the field. That’s OK. These plans provide long-term benefits to our valued public employees. Expertise is needed. Here’s the problem. In our case, the State’s consultant managed the entire bidding process. He even scored the bids of companies competing for the contract. Yet, while handling the bidding process, he also accepted thousands of dollars from one bidder. And, no surprise, that one bidder won the contract! Although he accepted thousands of dollars and provided the winning bidder with important pricing information, neither the consultant nor the bidder disclosed their relationship. Alabama officials had no idea. The consultant concealed the relationship. Nobody can explain how this provider’s bid was better than the others? The bidding process should be fully transparent and beyond ethical question.