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U.S. News

California: No-Bid AIDS Contract Draws Dissent

June 1, 2005

On Tuesday, a divided Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved by 3-2 a no-bid, four-year AIDS contract funded by a nearly $200,000 federal grant to the private nonprofit AltaMed, which operates clinics in the county's east and southeast. The county Office of AIDS Programs and Policy (APP) recommended the award; county Public Health Agency CEO John Schunhoff said AltaMed was chosen on the basis of its AIDS services work for Latinos. In addition, a four-week timeframe to submit proposals to Washington limited time to seek other bids, Schunhoff said.

However, some board members were uncomfortable with the no-bid contract and concerned with a county investigation into charges that AltaMed provided inadequate HIV/AIDS services under other county contracts.

"You have an entity ... being awarded a contract under investigation by our auditor-controller," said Supervisor Don Knabe, who with Supervisor Mike Antonovich voted against approving the contract. "I just have a very hard time on a sole-source situation like that making that award," said Knabe.

In addition, on Friday the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) filed suit against the county, alleging that former APP Director Chuck Henry retaliated against AHF and awarded contracts to those with whom he had ties.

Two weeks ago, Henry was removed as APP director following a county investigation into allegations that he solicited contributions from county contractors while working for Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa's campaign.

In the suit, AHF President Michael Weinstein accused Henry of retaliating against him for complaints he made by launching a series of "arbitrary and punitive and other programmatic audits" and attempts to reduce AHF funding. Earlier this month, county auditors claimed AHF had overcharged the county $348,000 for services provided to AIDS patients at the foundation's Carl Bean House hospice.

County officials declined comment on the suit but said they awarded contracts fairly and based on merit.

Back to other news for June 1, 2005

Adapted from:
Los Angeles Times
06.01.05; Jack Leonard

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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