Nevada trims contracts with current, former state workers

CARSON CITY — State agencies appear to have dramatically reduced their frequency of contracting with current and former employees since a law regulating the practice took effect in July 2011.

Documents obtained from the Administration Department show that agencies have entered into only 33 such contracts since the rules approved by the 2011 Legislature became effective.

That is a small number compared with the 250 such contracts reviewed by legislative auditors in a report released in December 2010 that covered the years 2008 and 2009.

The audit identified numerous potential concerns with the contracting process, including a case of one person seeking payment for 25 hours of work in one 24-hour day and another where a current state employee earned $62,590 as a contractor in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 while earning a state salary as well.

The audit showed that the Legislature was kept in the dark about much of the contract work by state employees because the Administration Department used a narrow definition of the term “consultant” and did not provide information to lawmakers sought from legislation passed in 2009.

The audit drove the 2011 changes to the contracting process.

Although state agencies can still enter into such contracts to fill specific needs, the process is more transparent. The Board of Examiners, made up of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, must review and authorize such agreements at regular public meetings.

Such contracts can only be approved if certain circumstances are found to exist, such as situations where a short-term or unusual economic circumstance exists for an agency requiring such employment. Former employees who left state service within two years are covered by the contracting rules.

State Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, who sponsored the legislation, said the new rules appear to be achieving the goals of transparency and judicious use of state dollars.

“I do think it is working,” she said. “It does a good job of making sure we are utilizing the employees that we have.”

Smith said she is pleased the Sandoval administration worked with lawmakers to craft the necessary changes.

There are times when a former state worker’s expertise is necessary and valuable, but it is important for state agencies to train staff to take over duties when someone leaves, she said.

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank based in Las Vegas, welcomed the news that the contracting levels have dropped off.

“There was some obvious abuse before the new law was put into effect,” he said. “Essentially, if an employee could get friendly enough with his or her boss to convince them to agree to a contracting arrangement, the employee could be paid twice with taxpayer dollars for performing the same amount of work.”

The new accountability measures are helping to ensure that taxpayer resources aren’t wastefully showered on a few workers who figure out how to game the system, Lawrence said.

“Lawmakers should continue to remain vigilant, however, to ensure the problem has been solved, and not simply been swept under the rug by keeping new contract arrangements off the official books,” he said.

Since the rules took effect, agencies such as the Agency for Nuclear Projects, the Tourism Commission and the military office have contracted with current or former employees.

More than two dozen contracts have been formalized in the first 18 months of the law, all of which are put before the state Board of Examiners for review and approval. Another half dozen have been approved this year but a comprehensive report has not been generated.

The Board of Examiners has two requests on its Tuesday agenda.

Some contracts last only a few months; others can last as long as two years.

The contracts come from nearly every major state agency.

Joe Strolin, a former Nuclear Project Agency employee, was hired to continue its oversight of Yucca Mountain. The contract, entered into in fall 2011, is paying Strolin $50 an hour.

Dr. Blanche Bonnick, a former state employee, was contracted as a senior physician at the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas in 2012. She was listed as earning just under $154 an hour, a rate identified as consistent with those providing similar services.

The Education Department in 2012 contracted with former administrator Gary Horton to help with distributive school account payments at a rate of $60 an hour.

The Public Utilities Commission in 2012 contracted with former employee Samuel Thompson as a fact-finder at a rate of $100 per hour.

The 2010 audit by the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s audit division found numerous concerns with current and former state employees being hired as contractors to work for state agencies, sometimes at a much higher rate of pay. Many of the contracts were not clearly disclosed by state agencies.

The legislative audit identified 250 current and former employees providing services to the state. They were paid a total of $11.6 million during fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the years reviewed.

The attorney general’s office investigated some of the findings but did not take action against any employee.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.

ad-high_impact_4
News
ICE Detainee Prepares for Lawsuit in Las Vegas
Cecilia Gomez and her lawyer, Laura Berra, and representatives from Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center held a press conference Thursday morning. They announced the filing of a Freedom of Information Act request for all related documents to the Mexican mother's detention by immigration officers in late March and April.
What's Next For Mount Charleston Lodge
Christina Ellis, marketing director for Ellis Island, discusses what the company plans for their latest addition, the Mt. Charleston Lodge in Kyle Canyon.
Bill Cosby Found Guilty on All Charges
Bill Cosby Found Guilty on All Charges The 80-year-old actor has been convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, all of which have a penalty of 10 years in prison. In 2004, Cosby drugged and raped Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee, when she went to him for career advice. Despite only being convicted for Constand’s case, multiple other women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. The verdict was delivered by the jury on Thursday after more than 14 hours of deliberation. This was the second trial for Constrand’s case against Cosby after the first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury could not come to a conclusion.
Suspected 'Golden State Killer' Arrested 30 Years After Crime Spree
Suspected 'Golden State Killer' Arrested 30 Years After Crime Spree According to 'The New York Times', police have made an arrest in connection with a series of unsolved murders and rapes during the 1970s and 1980s. 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested on two counts of murder, according to records from the Sacramento County jail. The Golden State Killer is believed to have killed at least 12 people, raped at least 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes between 1976 and 1986. According to CNN, no one has ever been identified as a suspect before. Anne Marie Schubert, Sacramento District Attorney
Clark County teacher explains why he’s joining new union
A new local teachers union was created Wednesday, right after Clark County Education Association members voted to cut ties with the state and national union. The new local union retains those ties. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Genetic counselors in Southern Nevada area preaching testing for people with risk factors
Genetic counselors in Southern Nevada area preaching testing for people with risk factors to determine their cancer and disease risk. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Run Leaves Las Vegas
The 19th annual Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Run left Las Vegas Wednesday morning. More than 550 officers will run 132 segments to Carson City. Each leg represents an officer who died in the line of duty.
President Donald Trump speaks at White House ceremony for French president
President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony for French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at White House ceremony
President Emmanuel Macron speaks at Tuesday ceremony welcoming the French leader and his wife to the White House. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Toronto Attack Suspect Charged in Van Attack
Toronto Attack Suspect Charged in Van Attack According to the Associated Press, 25-year-old Alek Minassian was charged with 10 counts of 1st degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Minassian appeared in court Tuesday morning after mowing down and killing 10 people in a rented van Monday in downtown Toronto. 15 others were also injured in the attack. Authorities have not announced a motive. “As was indicated last night by our public security minister, at this time we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack, but obviously the investigations continue.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
1 dead in shooting at southwest Las Vegas home
A dispute between roommates led to the fatal shooting of one man in the backyard of their southwest Las Vegas Valley home on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
9 Dead and at Least 16 Injured as Van Hits Pedestrians in Toronto
9 Dead and at Least 16 Injured as Van Hits Pedestrians in Toronto The driver of the van is now in custody after climbing the curb and plowing through crowds of people. Witnesses describe a scene of chaos as the trail stretched about one mile before coming to a stop. Witness, via CTV Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made initial statements after learning of the incident. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
High School Senior Wins Writing Scholarship
Kye "Kai" Catarata was presented with a $1,000 scholarship at the Las Vegas Writer's Conference Saturday at the Tuscany Suites and Casino.
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child Kensington Palace announced that Prince William and Princess Kate traveled by car to the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in central London Monday. The child was born at 11:01 a.m. local time, weighing 8lbs 7oz. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well. Kensington Palace The new addition will be fifth in line to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II's sixth great-grandchild and third grandchild of Charles, Prince of Wales. Catherine and Harry married in 2011 and have two other children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 3 next month.
Dr. Abbatangelo: Professor, Pageant Queen and Animal Dentist
Dr. Tina M. Abbatangelo, a professor of clinical practice at UNLV dentist school spends her free time and money traveling across the country to help treat exotic animals.
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with RJ
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Otting oversees all national banks, credit unions, mutual savings banks, coops and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Paris Wade discusses about his “Liberty Writers” website
Paris Wade, who made national headlines for operating a fake news website and boasts about getting President Donald Trump elected in 2016, speaks during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Wade is running for Nevada Assembly. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers.
Las Vegas Metro police and Henderson police officers ride their bikes during the Vegas Team's last practice rides in preparation for the Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal @bizutesfaye
UNLV students walk out of class on national walkout day
UNLV students and supporters chanted, marched and rallied on national walkout day Friday, April 20 on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Veterans Find Comfort in Crafting
Patriot Place Apartments, an affordable housing facility that gives preference to veterans, started moving people in in August. The apartment buildings have 41, one-bedroom and 9 two-bedrooms and provide rental assistance or subsidized rent to residents based on their income. Thirteen apartments were fully furnished and set-aside specifically for low-income veterans with a disability and who are facing the challenges of homelessness. The facility also offers activities like crafting to help vets socialize and build confidence. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Captain Sasha Larkin Discusses Challenges, Progress in North West
Captain Sasha Larkin, of Metro's Northwest Area Command, discusses what issues face the northwest valley's residents and what police are doing to address them.
Southwest giving passengers on deadly flight $5,000 for compensation
Passengers on Flight 1380 have been receiving checks as a gesture of goodwill from the airline.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
LVMPD Arrests Suspect in Sunset Park Shooting
Captain Robert Plummer held a press conference at LVMPD headquarters Thursday to provide updates on the arrest of Anthony J. Wrobel, accused of killing a Venetian executive and wounding one other in a shooting on Sunday.
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Artist, Community Paint Winchester Skate Park
Andrew Schoultz, a Los Angeles-based artist with an upcoming exhibit at UNLV's Barrick Museum, painted the skate park at Winchester Cultural Center on Tuesday.
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like