Montco: Back to CBIZness as usual
As long as a 2-1 vote carries the day in Montgomery County, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Montgomery County’s perpetual supplier of health care consulting services, CBIZ, has won the day again, this time securing a sweetheart deal that kicks back $10 to the consultant for every $75 fee per employee paid to IBC. With 3,000 county employees, you do the math.
Now I know what you are thinking: What exactly is it that a healthcare consultant does and why is one needed to manage a health care plan that the county has been on for years and why is the pay so lucrative? All good questions. Let’s turn to the Times Herald’s Keith Phucas for answers:
The Times Herald previously reported that since 2006, CBIZ officials have contributed a total of $24,463 to Matthew’s political campaign coffers, according to campaign finance reports.
During the 2007 commissioners race, company executives gave the Damsker-Hoeffel campaign $12,500.
On Feb. 12, 2008, CBIZ senior executive F. Bruce Walter gave Matthews, by then the commissioners chairman, a $1,000 campaign donation. Three months later, Walter gave $200 to Hoeffel’s campaign, according to 2008 campaign records.
I’m sure they do, you know, actual healthcare consulting stuff, too. Whatever that is.
So those of you with long memories may be saying to yourselves, “Don’t I recal that CBIZ is the company that was less than forthcoming about how they obtained those contracts and how much they were paid for the same? Wasn’t there something about producing Requests For Proposals (RFP) and complying with some Hoeffel-sponsored ordinance?” Well, you would be right. If you want to refresh your memory, you can look here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
So surely, you’re thinking, after all that fuss and stonewalling and charging for copies just a few short months ago, CBIZ must have finally produced the RFPs in question. That after the scrutiny of the press on a situation that had every appearance of Commissioners Hoeffel and Matthews engaging in pay to play, surely those aforementioned commissioners would not have the chutzpah to grant a two-year contract to CBIZ again without them complying with the original RFP request?
Not to worry, though. They submitted an RFP this time:
Recently, an RFP went out for a health insurance consultant, and five companies, including CBIZ, responded.
Explaining the evaluation process at Wednesday’s commissioners meeting, by G. Fred DiBona III, of DiBona Associates, admitted when questioned by Castor that he knew the firms by name that he helped county officials rank. As well, DiBona said Matthews recently hired him to assist human resources and commissioner staffers in the evaluations.
Hold up. Wait. Fred DiWHO the third? Who’s he?
He’s the consultant that was used to pick the consultant.
[DiBona] is a former employee of one of the vendors that submitted a proposal.
Castor echoed his past criticism about being kept out of the loop about professional services contractor selections.
“One of the things I thought we agreed on (in the new ordinance) was the three commissioners would get to vote on these contracts,” he said, referring to DiBona’s consultant work. “I didn’t know we were bringing you on.”
Matthews explained DiBona Associates met an exception in Ordinance 10-3 because he would not be paid more than $7,500 for his services.
DiBona also conceded the process that picked CBIZ was a “subjective determination,” and that evaluating consultant companies was not something he ordinarily does.
“It’s not a regular part of my business,” he said.
Not a regular part of his business? Well that’s a relief. At least he’s qualified to earn that $7500 fee.
So what does this all mean for the County? Bruce Castor (the “1″ vote in the perpetual “2-1″ voting pattern of the Montgomery County Commissioners) and Joe Hoeffel sum it up thusly:
The selection process was tipped in favor of CBIZ given that “The guy who is paying (DiBona) is CBIZ’s guy,” Castor said, referring to Matthews.
Hoeffel suggested possible bias was reflected in CBIZ’s high score for “Confidence of County HR/Finance Team with Vendor Capabilities,” perhaps because the company is the only health insurance consultant most of the staff had ever dealt with.
“The county staff likes CBIZ, and I think it helped (the firm),” Hoeffel said later.
And CBIZ will save the county money over the two-year $576,000 contract, by cutting the per-employee monthly rate by $2. Castor deemed it ironic that only now the consultant was revealing dollar figures for its services, something it has refused to do since December. He concluded current pricing makes the county contract worth more than $700,000 to the consultant for the same time period.
“Now you know why CBIZ didn’t want to tell us (how much it was paid),” Castor said following the meeting. “Because it looks like they’re getting a commission of $360,000 each year after contributing to the campaigns of Matthews and Hoeffel.”
Yup. Sounds like CBIZness as usual to me.