OPEA wins in privatization court case

The District Court in Oklahoma Co. has ruled in favor of OPEA in a case involving the ADvantage Administrative Unit (AAU) of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the privatization process. The result of OPEA’s action is that sixty state employees will be able to continue to serve elderly and disabled citizens.

On Jan. 11, the court issued a summary judgment in the case OPEA, the plaintiff, made against the state of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (HCA) and the Department of Central Services (DCS) Purchasing Division. This case is connected to legislation from 2011, House Bill 1363, that was amended to require that DHS privatize the AAU. The bill required that the privatization follow the process outlined in statute which allows state employees to compete for their jobs.

Several years ago, DHS removed the program from LTCA and brought the operation in house due to contract issues such as non-compliance with federal guidelines and high salaries for executives in the organization. In spite of the fact state employees were performing the function well, the LTCA pressured legislators to sponsor a bill requiring that the contract be returned to the private vendor. During the 2011 session, OPEA amended the bill requiring that the state employees who had been operating the program be allowed to compete, according to the Privatization of State Functions Act.

When the contracting process did not comply with the provisions of the Privatization of State Functions Act, OPEA filed suit.

The ruling states the following:

The court, being advised of the agreement of the parties to resolve this matter, finds as follows:
The provisions of 56 OS, 1017.5, imposes mandatory deadlines and procedures related to the competitive bid process.
Statutory deadlines set forth in 56 OS, 1017.5(A) have not been met and have since lapsed and/or expired.
56 OS, 1017.5 makes no allowance for extensions and is wholly devoid of any language that this competitive bid process will renew yearly.
The ruling goes on to state that: “56 OS, 1017.5, is hereby declared ineffective and inoperable and null and void and without further force or effect as a matter of law.”

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