Transparency and accountability

To the editor: For the first time in recent memory, the Executive Council has been the top story in many media outlets.Much of that attention has been concerning the proposed removal of Liquor Commission Chairman Mark Bodi and Banking Commissioner Peter Hildreth because of alleged ethics violations and failure to protect investors’ interests respectively.However, an even more important issue, in my opinion, is the Anthem New Hampshire State Health Benefit contract. Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek, on numerous occasions, asked that the $500 million renewal health insurance contract be put out for bid.The final vote was tabled numerous times. The Department of Administrative Services stated that putting the contract up for bid would be costly and unnecessary.It is worthy to note that as a result of the delays, Anthem shaved $2 million from its original proposal.I have a great deal of executive experience with issues of this importance, and I completely concur with Councilor Wieczorek, and in the interest of total accountability and transparency, this $500 million contract should have been competitively bid.Awards of this magnitude not competitively bid is bad business and does not serve the taxpayers of New Hampshire well.The Executive Council is required to represent the people’s best interests relative to all contracts; however, in this case, it did not.As any businessperson realizes, an open bid process is good business. During the bidding process, the companies involved will find ways to cut costs while maintaining the required services.If it had been bid, even more costs could have been shaved from the contract, which would have in turn benefited the New Hampshire taxpayers.We will never know how many layoffs and furloughs or other difficult budget cuts could have been avoided if it had been competitively bid. Anthem is a very good and well-respected company, but a competitively bid contract would have been good for the process and most likely better for the New Hampshire taxpayers.Kudos to Councilor Wieczorek for the dogged fight on this basic sound business practice.The Executive Council must not be a rubber stamp for the two most important elements of their responsibilities it has to the New Hampshire citizens – contract approval and approval of the governor’s nominees for commissioners and department heads.The Anthem contract, in my opinion, was not handled properly and the vetting process must be much better and a yearly performance review for all commissioners and department heads should be an integral part of the Executive Council’s oversight.
James H. Adams Pittsfield

Categories: Cook on Concord