Drug testing contract delayed by Clark County commissioners

The approval of a contract with a San Diego-based company to provide specimen collection and drug testing services to the county’s Department of Family Services was tabled by Clark County commissioners Tuesday.

Concerns were raised over the recommended company being out-of-state, how the previous local contractor was evaluated and the vetting process as a whole. Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly also questioned whether the out-of-state company, Phamatech Inc., had a connection with a county employee.

Commissioners asked staff to review the selection process before resubmitting the contract for approval within 30 days.

Synergy, a local company that held the contract, temporarily continues to drug test children and parents working with Family Services.

The contract ended in March and was not renewed because of performance issues and cost increases, said Kristi Jourdan, Family Services spokeswoman.

But Isaac Farrell, president of Synergy, said there was never a formal complaint filed against his company. There were only minor issues, such as long waits or having to turn people away because of improper paperwork, he said.

Farrell also said that Family Services officials sometimes wanted certain people who tested negative to test positive.

When asked about Farrell’s assertion, Jourdan said there were times when clients admitted to using drugs, but when tested, the results were negative.

Farrell said the overall selection process was flawed.

“Our biggest issue was that they were going out-of-state, and for almost double the amount, and with no complaints with us,” Farrell said. “The evaluation process they did was not good, wasn’t proper. We would just want to see it done fairly.”

The Phamatech contract is for $2.6 million over the next three years, Jourdan said.

Thomas Aucoin, vice president for Phamatech, said the company was selected because it had the highest score in the selection process. The San Diego company already had been working with the county for six months.

They have invested time and resources because they made arrangements to start May 1, Aucoin said. They had plans to hire some local employees.

“It’s very disappointing to hear your comments today,” Aucoin told commissioners.

Weekly said he understands the work that had been done, but he had questions.

“I understand that you spent a lot of time and resources, but I want to know what happened with the local company,” he told Aucoin.

In the next 30 days, Lisa Ruiz-Lee, director of Family Services, will review all proposals, meet with potential contractors and make new recommendations to the commissioners, Jourdan said.

If the contract goes to Phamatech, Synergy would have to lay off six employees. Farrell said the contract represents about 20 percent of his business.

Jourdan said it’s unknown whether a relationship exists between Phamatech and a county employee. Contract documents don’t indicate any relationship with anyone in the county.

Aucoin said he was offended by that comment.

Contact Yesenia Amaro at yamaro@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

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