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Posts Tagged ‘privatization’

The overcrowded jails of Montgomery County

Sometimes it’s hard to be a County Commissioner. Montgomery County officials are facing a dilemma partly of their own making: What to do with an ever-growing jail population after selling off another lockup. The county’s jailers are struggling to find space for inmates — with dozens on occasion being forced to sleep on the floor […]

Building speculative privatized toll roads is risky business

Just ask the Texas 130 investors. Moody’s Investor Service has downgraded the credit rating of the private company that built and operates the Texas 130 toll road extension, a rating that could continue to drop unless traffic “aggressively” grows on the road in the next two years. Moody’s issued the rating April 12 after putting […]

Report recommends against privatizing the Harris County jail

Very good news. Privatizing the Harris County jail would be risky and may not result in savings, according to an internal county memo recommending that Commissioners Court keep the state’s largest lockup in Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s hands. The confidential Feb. 11 memo, obtained by the Houston Chronicle, comes after more than a year of study […]

Jail privatization update

Grits, from about two weeks ago: In a conference call last week with investors (see the transcript), Corrections Corporation of America said it expects to find out by next spring whether they will receive a contract to operate the Harris County Jail. Said President and CEO David Hininger: The final update I wanted to give […]

The helium shortage gets real

It could affect Thanksgiving. “We’ve secured helium to meet some of our parade needs, and we are working to secure more,” Kim Stoilis, president and chief executive officer of the Houston Festival Foundation, said in an email Wednesday. “We’re excited about this holiday tradition and our parade director assures me that all of our balloons […]

Psych hospital privatization rejected

Good. The Department of State Health Services has rejected a bid by Geo Care to privatize Kerrville State Hospital. Last year, legislators told State Health Services it had to solicit proposals from mental health providers that wanted to run one of the state-run psychiatric hospitals. Those proposals had to show that the bidder could run […]

Why are we paying for a privatized psych hospital?

Makes no sense to me. The Department of State Health Services has spent more than $2 million on bond interest for a psychiatric hospital that it doesn’t own and that was championed by Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams. But that’s not all the state is paying for, said Montgomery County Commissioner Ed Chance, who spearheaded […]

Opposing the privatized psych hospital

Some pushback on a bad idea. A coalition of influential Texas organizations is pushing back against the proposed privatization of a state psychiatric hospital by Geo Care, a subsidiary of a prison operations group that has a troubled history in Texas. The Department of State Health Services is preparing to privatize one of the state […]

Privatizing psych hospitals makes as much sense as privatizing prisons

Especially when it’s the same outfit doing the privatizing in each case. Sixteen months after the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility opened in Conroe, the state’s first publicly funded, privately run psychiatric hospital is facing at least $53,000 in state fines for serious shortcomings in patient care. The private operator, Geo Care, is a […]

Suehs to retire

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs will call it a career this August. Suehs’ announcement follows news last month that Billy Millwee, the state’s Medicaid director, was retiring, leaving an even bigger void than anticipated at the top of an agency facing billions of dollars in unpaid Medicaid costs and struggling to institute […]

Outsourcing Texas border security

What could possibly go wrong? A little-known private defense contractor from Virginia has quietly received about $20 million under a series of no-bid contracts with the State of Texas to develop its border security strategies, an effort that included shaping the state’s public message on the increasingly controversial nature and extent of violence spilling into […]

Thinking long term about the city’s finances

If you didn’t have to worry about practicality or implementation issues, what ideas would you have about improving the city’s long term financial health? That in a nutshell is the mission of the Long-Range Financial Management Task Force that was created last year when the budget was adopted, and they’re starting to generate those ideas. […]

Weekend link dump for December 25

Just a few more hours till the after-Christmas sales start. Assuming there are any more Chistmases after this one. The case against Santa Claus. Trying to exert control over the presents your kids get is ultimately doomed to fail. How many of the presents under your tree were made in America? On baby names, pet […]

More on privatizing the Harris County jail

Grits: On Sunday, Grits broke the news that Corrections Corporation of America had submitted a bid to manage the Harris County Jail, citing information given to investors about a county-issued RFP which hadn’t been reported in the local media. Last night, the local Fox TV affiliate confirmed it: FOX 26 News obtained this news letter from Corrections Corporation […]

More Perry privatization problems

Insert your favorite cliche about being shocked. The state of Texas has quietly outsourced the management of more than $1 billion in federal disaster recovery funds to an engineering firm with close ties to Gov. Rick Perry’s administration, paying the Kansas City, Mo. -based firm HNTB $45 million so far to process infrastructure grants for […]

We’re running out of helium

Am I the only one that finds this a little disturbing? Deep beneath the dry, dusty ground outside this Panhandle city lies something lighter than air: helium. But the supply of the gas that inflates balloons, cools MRI machines and detects leaks in NASA space shuttle fuel tanks isn’t infinite. There’s only so much helium […]

Who wants to help build the Grand Parkway?

The State of Texas wants to know. The Texas Department of Transportation, which has responsibility for the parkway in Harris, Montgomery and Chambers Counties, is moving toward use of a public-private partnership to get faster funding for the multibillion-dollar, 184-mile project. [...] This spring, the Legislature renewed the public-private option for building the Grand Parkway […]

Council approves deal to spin off Convention Center

Meet Houston First, which merges the city’s Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department and the Houston Convention Center Hotel Corporation, which runs the Hilton Americas. The corporation will not have to come to the council to get expenses approved. The unionized work force of the city department will become private-sector employees of the corporation. The corporation […]

More on the city’s convention center spinoff proposal

This press release from the Mayor’s office about the proposed spinoff of the city’s convention business hit my inbox this afternoon: Mayor Annise Parker today recommended consolidation of the city’s Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department (CEFD) into the Houston Convention Center Hotel Corporation (HCCHC). The proposal, if approved by City Council, would provide the city […]

Spinning off the convention business

The city is looking to get out of the convention and entertainment business and maybe make a few bucks in the process. The city’s Convention and Entertainment Facilities department currently runs the George R. Brown Convention Center and other city-owned venues downtown. A plan on its way to City Council next week would make the […]

Jail privatization

Does anyone really think that privatizing the Harris County Jail would be a good idea? The suggestion comes from Commissioner Steve Radack, who said the item is a way for the county to examine all ways of cutting costs as budget cuts take hold and scores of county workers are laid off. “We need to […]

More on paying for roads and other forms of transportation

Given that the private toll road debate is set to gear up again in Texas, it is fortuitous that the Texas Public Interest Research Group, a/k/a TexPIRG, chose last week to release a report called Do Roads pay For Themselves? You can read the whole report, or you can skip to their press release for […]

Will we re-fight the toll road privatization battle?

Maybe. I’m a little dubious, however. Over a long July Fourth weekend two years ago, with time running out on a chaotic special session, the Legislature refused to extend authority for the Texas Department of Transportation to contract with private toll firms beyond Aug. 31, 2009. Since then, the privatization of toll roads, long a […]

State officially begins the IBM termination process

Been a long time coming. The state gave notice to IBM [last] week that it will terminate the troubled $863 million data center consolidation contract. The process could take a full two years as the Department of Information Resources finds companies to finish the mammoth job and they take over the merger of 28 state […]

We can learn from Indiana’s example

The state of Indiana decided a couple of years ago that it was paying too much for Medicaid, so they created to create a program called Healthy Indiana that provided vouchers for low income people to use to purchase private insurance. How has it worked out for them? About as you might expect, if you […]

Bye-bye, IBM

Better luck next time. The Department of Information Resources appears to be giving up on IBM — once and for all. The agency isn’t formally terminating its contract with the information technology and business consulting giant, which was supposed to coordinate the data centers and disaster recovery operations of 27 state agencies. But state officials […]

The State of Texas versus IBM: IBM responds

In July, the state gave IBM thirty days to respond to various charges relating to its ability to fulfill outsourcing contract obligations. IBM has now given its response. In a letter released [last] Friday, IBM executive Cynthia McLean defended the company’s performance and said it will continue to meet with the agency to resolve issues […]

The State of Texas versus IBM: Down dooby doo down down…

It just keeps getting worse, doesn’t it? All the finger-pointing and fault-finding over the state’s troubled data center contract has technology analyst Tom Starnes wondering if Texas and IBM Corp. want this marriage to work. “It’s like they don’t want to be together and that’s bothersome to me,” said Starnes, who has been researching public-private […]

The State of Texas and IBM: Not getting any better

No group hugs are expected any time soon. Agencies that help Texans renew their automobile registrations, draw unemployment benefits and apply for food stamps and Medicaid face crushing demands – and IBM, the technology contractor for those agencies, isn’t even providing mundane services, a top state technology official testified today. “We’ve experienced significant service delivery […]

The State of Texas versus IBM

It’s never a pretty sight when an outsourcing relationship goes bad. IBM Corp.’s $863 million data center consolidation contract with Texas is teetering on collapse. Seven months of negotiations aimed at righting the troubled project and salvaging the partnership fell apart at the end of June. On Friday, the state gave IBM 30 days to […]

Sometimes, government really is run like a business

And that’s not such a good thing, as former deputy state comptroller Billy Hamilton pointed out in testimony before the House Select Committee on Government Efficiency and Accountability. Don’t expect savings anytime soon. Check out other states that tried the same. Chew the fat with experts and possible vendors. Make sure the private sector’s offering […]

Feds fine Texas for food stamp failures

Our longstanding food stamp problems continue to cost the state of Texas millions of dollars. Federal officials have fined Texas $3.96 million for errors in issuing food stamp benefits, according to a letter sent to House Speaker Joe Straus. The penalty is for exceeding 105 percent of the national average rate of payment errors — […]

The stalking horse

Peggy Fikac brings up a familiar point about expanded gambling. [Rob Kohler, a Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission consultant working against gambling expansion] suspects the gambling talk is paving the way for a new push to lease the state lottery to private interests, who would give Texas a big up-front payment in return for being […]

Accounting tricks

Everyone knows that the current budget shortfall means the Lege will be searching for cutbacks and new revenue sources. But there is a third option, too, one that doesn’t usually get much attention but which has certainly been done before: Accounting tricks. Delaying payments, sometimes as little as a day, to push them into the […]