Local Politics

Temporary budget lets DHHS use no-bid contracts

Posted October 10, 2009 1:31 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2009 3:46 p.m. EDT

N.C. health, mental health, Medicaid generic

— A stopgap budget adopted by state lawmakers in July allows one of North Carolina's largest agencies to enter no-bid contracts.

The measure means that the state Department of Health and Human Services can chose not to use the competitive bidding process, which involves a public search for bidders.

DHHS spokeswoman Renee McCoy said the agency is limited to using no-bid contracts only for cost-cutting measures and can enter such agreements only for a six-month period. Contracts must also be approved by the secretary of the Department of Administration.

DHHS has not yet entered any no-bid contracts.

McCoy said the no-bidding process is necessary to make immediate cost cuts. The competitive bidding process could last into next year, she said.

When DHHS got permission to use no-bid contracts, the deadline for a new state budget was two weeks past, and lawmakers were struggling to close a shortfall estimated in the billions. The stopgap budget limited agency spending to 84 percent of the previous year's budget.

The final state budget cut DHHS' budget by nearly 12.75 percent, or $738 million.