AUSTIN — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) plans to re-issue a request for proposals (RFP) for a major data project this fall. The original procurement was canceled so the state could make revisions to help lower the costs for the project.
"This is an important project to help improve the quality and efficiency of Medicaid services, and we’re committed to getting it right," said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek. "We also had concerns that a state employee inappropriately provided information to at least one of the companies that bid on the project. The story has gotten muddled so let me be clear: There was no indication whatsoever that any vendor did anything inappropriate or unethical. It’s the responsibility of our employees to know our policies about how information is communicated to bidders."
The state had evaluated bids for the project and in June began negotiations with the company that had the best bid. The state had not yet reached agreement on a contract and announced on Sept. 5 that it would cancel the procurement and expected to issue a new RFP.
Janek said three factors contributed to his decision to cancel the RFP and issue a new one:
The bids came in higher than the state expected.
Many of the options for reducing the costs would change the scope of work as outlined in the RFP, requiring the state to issue a new RFP with a revised scope of work. "To do otherwise would be unfair," Janek said. "It’s important that we have a level playing field for all potential bidders."
HHSC became concerned about the credibility of the procurement after learning that information in a staff discussion about efforts to lower the costs had been leaked to the vendor. Janek said the information could have hurt the state’s negotiating position, and it raised the possibility that there could have been other inappropriate communications, too.
HHSC is investigating the leak and may take disciplinary action if it can identify the employee involved. Agency employees working on a procurement are required to sign non-disclosure forms agreeing that they won’t release information about the procurement.