Friday, April 12, 2013

OKDHS Cancels Bridge Resource Family Contracts, Plans New Approach

OKLAHOMA CITY -- OKDHS Director Ed Lake has canceled recently awarded contracts for the recruitment and retention of foster care Bridge Resource Families due "serious problems with the approach" of the RFP. Below is the letter sent today to entities who had been awarded contracts:

I am writing to alert you that I have advised the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Central Purchasing Division of my decision to cancel the contracts which were recently awarded from the Request for Proposals for the recruitment and retention of Bridge Resource Families (830-1065).  You will receive an official notice of cancellation from OMES in the near future.

Although the RFP construction, evaluation and contract negotiation processes were carried out faithfully in accordance with state purchasing rules, I believe that the result of this effort will not fully achieve the goals we established and there are enough serious problems with the approach that it is better to restart the process than to continue on this path.  

Please know that my decision has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the agencies awarded contracts. Further, I clearly understand the difficulties this termination places on the agencies who have already received contracts. However, I firmly believe the downside of going forward under these conditions outweigh the benefits for both your agency and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.    

I did not undertake this decision lightly and you deserve a full explanation as to how I arrived at this point. When I was named Director of OKDHS and arrived in Oklahoma, all of the bids for this RFP had already been submitted.  I immediately began hearing complaints from the provider community that they were not consulted in this process, concerns about the harshness of the “liquidated damages” provisions, and confusion about some of the terms and conditions.  

I reviewed the RFP personally, consulted with Casey Family programs, and sought additional feedback from the provider community.  I concluded that, while the RFP was not ideal, it was an important step to help our agency meet critical goals and that together we could make it work.  

Unfortunately, by the time the bids were evaluated and contracts awarded, it was evident to me that the problems which had been created were serious enough to impede our future progress.  These are the primary concerns that have brought me to this decision: 

  • The language in the RFP is too prescriptive for performance-based contracts and works against provider creativity, flexibility and capability--all of which are critical to adding value to the services.  
  • The catchment (service) areas in some parts of the state were artificially defined, working against the reality of how resource homes could be recruited and supported.  
  • The awarding of one contract per service area does not allow us to take maximum advantage of the universe of agencies capable of providing high quality services. 
  • The process did not fully allow for partner input to the service delivery design and details.

We will begin immediately to reconstruct a new solicitation process that engages the provider community, incorporating your best thinking and most creative ideas.  Our goal is to construct a process that will better enable OKDHS and its partners to provide high quality recruitment, support and retention of resource homes that meet the needs of the children entrusted to our care.  

We will work with the providers who were awarded contracts to provide payment for service of completed placements until the actual termination date. 

I apologize for the hardships this may have created for you and sincerely hope you will continue to partner with us as we create this new system.  


Ed Lake, Director
Oklahoma Department of Human Services

Statement by the DHS reform working group in the House of Representatives

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