The Washington Department of Corrections announced today that it will not renew a contract with information technology vendor Assessments.com. The troubling history of Assessments.com was exposed during Senate hearings on the Department of Corrections’ early-release-of-prisoners scandal. Numerous witnesses testified in Senate hearings that the vendor favored by former Secretary Bernie Warner for his Advance Corrections initiative “wrote bad code” and delivered poor quality work.
“We were assured in Senate hearings that DOC would be examining that contract,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, “I’m pleased to see there’s been some follow-through, but we still have concerns about how this contract originated.”
The investigation by the Senate Law and Justice Committee revealed that DOC effectively entered into a sole-source contract with Assessments.com without standard sole-source procedures. State law requires agencies to demonstrate that a proposed sole-source supplier is the only vendor capable of providing the desired good or service. Sole-source contracts also are subject to review and challenge by other vendors. However, instead of awarding a new sole-source contract, DOC extended an old maintenance contract for the new risk-assessment project.
In testimony before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, former CIO Peter Jekel affirmed that the contract “didn’t smell right,” also stating, “if you were in a fish market you wouldn’t buy that fish.”
“Whether this procedure adhered to the letter of the law is one question, but it certainly didn’t follow the spirit,” O’Ban said. “This vendor had an extensive reputation for incomplete, low-quality work and was headed by a friend of Secretary Warner whose extensive record included arrests for cocaine use and violating a domestic order, and that makes the entire relationship inexplicable.”
More information on the relationship between Assessments.com and the Department of Corrections’ early release of prisoners, can be found in the Senate Majority Report. For actualities of witness testimony regarding Assessments.com and the Advance Corrections (STRONG-R) initiative, click the hyperlinks above.