Food deal smells, auditor says

By BETH CRACE State Journal Staff Writer Published:

State auditors have raised several concerns over the proposed contract for food service in the new Transportation Cabinet building.

The auditors contend the state made the food service contract so sweet a vendor can operate it with virtually no out-of-pocket costs.

The auditors also say the request for proposal (RFP) on the project was only advertised in one place - the Finance Cabinet's Web site - and once the state didn't receive any responses it sweetened the deal to attract bidders.

In light of that, State Auditor Ed Hatchett is questioning the state's plans for building, outfitting and managing food services in the 420,000 square foot office building downtown.

According to documents provided by the Finance and Administration Cabinet to the auditors, approximately 9,000 square feet, costing an estimated $2.4 million, has been set aside for kitchen, servery and dining areas in the building which has been under construction for nearly two years.

At least $1.2 million of that cost has been set aside for equipment, for which the state will reimburse the food vendor, according to auditors.

Hatchett, in an interview with the newspaper Monday, also questioned the manner in which the contract was handled. From the auditor's standpoint, the state has a valuable commodity - a restaurant with a built-in customer base and a prime location.

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.

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