PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The McKee administration is paying just over $1 million to ILO Group for its work during the last three months of 2021, closing the books on a controversial contract that spurred legislative oversight hearings and an ongoing investigation by Rhode Island’s attorney general.
After weeks of internal review, Gov. Dan McKee’s office released ILO’s second and final invoice, submitted by the consulting company on Dec. 24. The invoice shows the firm billed the state 5,018 hours at $227.84 per hour from October through December, after which time the firm told the governor’s office it was done with the work six months into a one-year deal.
The $1.06 million is in addition to the $763,000 ILO billed for the first three months its contract, putting the final price tag for its work at about $1.8 million. The one-year contract was worth up to $5.2 million, according to purchasing documents provided by the state.
In a list of accomplishments attached to the invoice, ILO’s leaders said they helped the state reopen schools, provided a blueprint for a test-to-stay pilot program and positioned the McKee administration to expand Municipal Learning Programs, a key initiative for the governor.
The ILO contract came under fire last year after a Target 12 investigation examined the highly unusual bidding process that led up to the firm’s selection, raising concerns among lawmakers that ILO had an inside track due to political connections. The governor’s office and ILO have insisted the company didn’t receive preferential treatment.
Last fall, state Rep. Patricia Serpa and state Sen. Louis DiPalma led House and Senate oversight committee hearings to scrutinize the deal. On Monday, the lawmakers told Target 12 they will submit legislation to reform part of the state’s procurement process as a result of their findings.
“It is critical that our procurement process is open, transparent and, most importantly, fair,” Serpa and DiPalma said in a joint statement.
The oversight leaders’ bill would prohibit the state purchasing agency from changing requests for proposals into master price agreements — something that happened in the ILO deal — unless the process is canceled and re-issued. The bill would also require greater involvement from the agency overseeing the contracts, and better oversight of the process.
“The chief purchasing officer shall confirm that there is no conflict of interest, nor an appearance of a conflict, between the interests of an individual appointed to the technical evaluation committee for an RFP and the interests of the state,” the lawmakers said.
Separately, Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office is continuing its own investigation into the how the ILO deal came together.
During a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers last week, Neronha declined to discuss where the probe stands currently or how long it will take to reach a conclusion. But he explained his goal is to try and understand what happened so he can determine whether there is any relevant law to apply and ultimately make a decision that “the public can rely on.”
“We’re going to do the deep dive we need to do to understand what – if anything – happened, and what the implications are, and the timing isn’t driven by anything other than that,” Neronha said. “When we’re ready to share our results with the public, we will.”
Tim White and Ted Nesi contributed to this report.