PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – After blowback from local lawmakers, the state is pulling the plug on a $76,000-a-week contract awarded to a consulting firm tasked with examining the operations of cash-strapped Rhode Island College.
In a statement to 12 News on Wednesday, a spokesperson said the Department of Administration, the Council on Postsecondary Education, and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner decided to cancel the contract with Alvarez & Marsal effective Jan. 14.
The no-bid contract was awarded in mid-December and was supposed to expire in February, meaning the firm would be paid at least $760,000 to evaluate issues like the school’s operations, enrollment and COVID-19 response. The firm was supposed to report its finding and recommendations to the state by March 1.
State Rep. William O’Brien, D-North Providence, blasted the deal as “disrespectful and outrageous,” questioning why a school with a projected $10.4 million deficit would spend close to $800,000 on a consultant.
“You’re begging us for millions of dollars to make you whole and you just basically blew $1 million,” he said of the school.
In an email, Robert Dulski, spokesperson for the Department of Administration, said Alvarez & Marsal will now provide a report on their preliminary findings.
“Now that incoming Governor McKee will be responsible for the upcoming FY 2022 budget proposal, we will cancel this contract [Thursday] with Alvarez & Marsal,” Dulski wrote.
He said the incoming McKee administration will work with the Council on Postsecondary Education and RIC to figure out next steps.
The firm’s hiring was first reported by The Boston Globe.