Loudoun supervisors, county staff members, and a senior officer in the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday night defended the integrity of a process that selected Sheriff Michael Chapman’s second-largest campaign contributor for a $4.75 million, two-year county contract.
Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, TN, has provided medical and psychiatric services for inmates at the Adult Detention Center and Work Release Center for 12 years. County supervisors voted 8-0-1, with Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) abstaining, to renew the contract for another two years.
Correct Care Solutions donated $3,000 to Chapman’s 2016 election campaign, but county staff members and his officers have said he had no hand in evaluating the four bids the county received for the contract.
Major Mike Manning said the sheriff had “absolutely no input” in picking a contract.
“I believe that the process was run according to our policies and procedures, and with all the honesty and integrity that comes with that,” said County Administrator Tim Hemstreet.
The problem, supervisors said again, lies with some much bigger-money contributions—lobbying in Richmond.
Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said during a June 13 a finance committee meeting that the state-mandated system for negotiating contracts is “rigged, and it’s rigged for professional services.”
Under state procurement procedures—which the county, by law, must follow—the government cannot negotiate with more than one bidder at time, and cannot demand a binding price estimate until then. That, supervisors say, means the county can’t pit firms against one another and drive prices down, and can’t know whether it’s getting the best price.
Correct Care Solutions entered the second-most expensive propose of the four bidders for the contract—$600,000 above the lowest bidder. County procurement staff members said the bids were not evaluated by which was cheapest, but by which best met the requirements of the contract.
“It could have ended up this time costing us more money, and we may never know that,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).