An April 27, 2015 article in the online version of the Mississippi Business Journal announced the Mississippi Department of Correction’s (“DOC’s”) selection of Centurion of Mississippi, LLC as its new inmate health care vendor. The new contract combines State-operated and privately run prisons under a single contract starting July 1. The article went on to state that Mississippi could save $2 million over the next three years by choosing this new private contractor.
The DOC’s math bears closer analysis.
It is true the DOC’s combined award to Centurion could realize a reported $2 million savings over the two separate contracts currently in place. However, the State could have realized a far greater total savings—more than $12 million—had it awarded the new combined contract to Wexford Health Sources.
Wexford Health, one of the state’s current inmate health care vendors, proposed a price of $138,995,500 for the same contract—more than $10 million lower than the $149.2 million offer selected by the DOC. Wexford Health has operated the Mississippi inmate health care program for the past nine years, having won the state contract in two separate competitive proposal processes in 2005 and 2010.
Wexford Health has performed solidly for the State of Mississippi since 2006, as demonstrated by the DOC’s 100 percent success rate on its independent third-party inmate health care audits. Centurion, a joint venture of other companies, has existed only since 2012; and its apparent affiliate, Centurion of Mississippi, LLC—the actual awarded vendor — was formed five months ago in January 2015. Although the DOC’s Request for Proposals required offerors to have a “good record of performance for the five (5) previous years,” the DOC ranked Centurion (an unknown entity) ahead of Wexford Health (a known and proven entity) in its evaluation by a margin of 1.6 points out of a possible 100.
The Request for Proposals stated the procurement method was to be a “competitive negotiation,” through which the DOC would identify “the best combination of price, experience, and quality of service.” The Request for Proposals also gave the DOC the option of holding discussions with both Wexford Health and Centurion. Yet the DOC chose not to do so.
Given that the DOC had a $22.4 million deficit for FY14, this Mississippi resident wishes the decision makers would have put more emphasis on achieving their stated goal of “the best combination of price, experience, and quality of service” for State taxpayers.
— Christopher Solop