by David Patterson | July 01, 2015
Five months after bids were submitted to handle Ohio’s troubled prison food services run by Aramark, where maggots were found in the food in several institutions, the state determined it would continue with Aramark’s services and reject OCSEA’s (Ohio Civil Services Employee Association) bid to take over food services.
OCSEA, which represents corrections officers and formerly represented food service workers prior to Aramark taking over, submitted a proposal with a cost well below Aramark’s and would have saved taxpayers $2.9 million a year.
Originally, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction told the union that an outside third party would review both the union proposal and Aramark’s. But several weeks ago the union learned that the accounting firm Crowe Horwath, which had been tasked with that review, backed out at the last minute.
“That was our first red flag,” said OCSEA Pres. Christopher Mabe. “No explanation was offered and we were left in limbo with only a couple weeks left before Aramark’s contract was up.”
Instead of getting an independent, external analysis that reviewed both proposals, the state’s Department of Administrative Services (DAS), the agency that holds the Aramark contract, only reviewed the union’s bid.
“DAS is less qualified and more vested in the contractor than any other entity,” said Mabe. “We knew from that point forward, we weren't going to get a fair or serious analysis.”
As expected, the DAS review made numerous false claims and assumptions about the union’s proposal and gave a heavy advantage to Aramark. For instance, DAS ignored cost savings included in the union proposal even when Aramark used the same practices. And the agency arbitrarily added a 42 percent upcharge to OCSEA’s food proposal, with no justification.
DAS also applied costs to the union’s analysis that DR&C already pays for, such as current staffing. The final tally from DAS’s upcharges added a whopping $13 million to the union’s original bid.
“This is not a reasonable analysis,” said Adam McKenzie, an OCSEA researcher who helped the OCSEA team with the bid.
"This was a deliberate attempt to ignore our proposal, because we were clearly the cheaper option,” said Mabe. “We were simply not given serious consideration or any of the allowances that Aramark was given and we are deeply disappointed.”
The union is now considering all its options moving forward.
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