The county finance committee has recommended the full Board of Supervisors renew its contract with the company that provides medical and psychiatric services in the jail and work release center, but not without hesitation.
The county will likely renew its contract with Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, TN, for two years at a cost of $4.75 million. That makes it the second-most expensive bid of the four the county received, which ranged from $5.62 million to $4.15 million. That puts Correct Care at nearly $600,000 above the lowest bid.
Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she has “significant unrest” with both the price of the contract and the language in it. She said she is also familiar with the bidders from her professional experience working in substance abuse among inmates.
“They are a good company, I’m not saying that is not true—that is very true,” Randall said. “But I’m also familiar with the other ones, and I don’t know that one outpaces the other to the tune of $600,000.”
Sheriff’s Office Major Michael Manning told the finance committee that Correct Care Solutions “came with a very detailed and demonstrated knowledge of what we were asking for.”
“They’ve shown us that in the past,” Manning said. “We’ve had a relationship with this company for over 11 years. They came to the table and they gave us everything we asked for in a very detailed manner.”
Four bids were evaluated by a panel of representatives from the sheriff’s office; the county Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Developmental Services; and county Department of Finance and Procurement. That panel ranked Correct Care Solution’s proposal highest.
Some of the committee’s concerns centered around the state procurement process, which the county must follow—a perennial concern for Loudoun in the state capitol. That system does not allow the county to negotiate with or get binding price bids from more than one bidder at a time, effectively preventing competitive negotiations.
Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said unless there is a verifiable difference between Correct Care Solutions and the next bidder, “right now, in my opinion, we are wasting $600,000 of taxpayer money over the next two years.”
“The state procurement system is rigged, and it’s rigged for professional services,” Buona said, bemoaning the outsized influence of those lobbies in the General Assembly.
And others revolved around how little time supervisors have to make this decision—the contract expires at the end of the month, so the county is under the gun to approve a new one before then. They have asked county staff to try to get these items to the board sooner. The county is required to provide psychiatric and medical services to inmates, meaning by law it must have answer before June 30.
According to campaign finance reports, at $3,000, Correct Care Solutions was the second-largest contributor to Sheriff Mike Chapman’s 2016 electoral campaign, second only to Falcon Heating and AC Inc. of Sterling at $4,000.
According to spokesmen for both the sheriff’s office and the county government, the sheriff did not participate in the procurement process.
The motion to recommend approving the contract also directs county staff to look into whether providing medical and psychiatric services from county employees rather than a contractor would be cheaper.