published Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Tennessee Democratic senator plans measure to ban state contractors from benefiting from recommendations

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    Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson

NASHVILLE — Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney says he intends to file legislation banning state contractors like Jones Lang LaSalle from profiting in the future by their own recommendations to Tennessee government.

“This bill stops companies from profiting from their own recommendations, as we’ve seen in the state’s building management contracts,” Finney said in a news release. “This bill sets a standard of ethics and protects taxpayers.”

The Jackson lawmaker’s plan follows an audit by state Comptroller Justin Wilson’s office that found flaws in the Department of General Services’s handling of a statewide contract with Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle for facility assessments, master planning and facility management services.

Auditors found among other things the state’s contract with the company created two “organizational conflicts of interest” where the contractor could profit from its own recommendations to the state.

For example, Jones Lang LaSalle’s recommendations on whether the state should lease office space leads to a situation in which the firm profits because it gets a commission on leases.

Finney said standards established by the legislation would put Tennessee in line with federal contract standards.

“The ideas of saving taxpayer dollars and having a standard of ethics on conflicts of interest are not mutually exclusive,” Sen. Finney said.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has defended the contract, saying it saves the state money. Meanwhile, General Services’ officials have pushed back against the audit, but Comptroller Wilson, also a Republican, has defended his auditors’ work.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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