Competitive bidding bill targeting a top state agency sent to Gov. Stitt


The same week Oklahoma State Auditor Cyndi Byrd released a report that was highly critical of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, a bill designed to put more restrictions on OMES was passed in the legislature and sent to the Governor.

House Bill 3057 is now in the hands of Gov. Kevin Stitt. Authored by Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, the bill, if signed into law, would make the state employment management agency and the Chief Information Officer subject to the Oklahoma Central Purchasing Act.

It would require all purchases of equipment, products and services within the Information Services Division of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and the Chief Information Officer to be subject to the Oklahoma Central Purchasing Act and the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 without exception.

“Oklahomans demand transparency and accountability regarding the expenditure of their hard-earned tax dollars,” Steagall said.

“The abuse of certain exemptions provided for in current statute pertaining to the competitive bid process has to end, and with the passage of HB3057, the Legislature is taking steps to reign in a significant portion of such exploitation.”

Rep. Steagall wants to close loopholes and elimiante exemptions used to “bypass the competitive bid process.”

“As the author of the bill and concerned taxpayer, I will be working to amend additional statutes to close loopholes and eliminate exemptions used or designed to bypass the competitive bid process.”

HB3057 is authored in the Senate by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.

“A government that can’t be trusted is a government that will lose citizen support,” Weaver said. “How we conduct business must be above reproach and above board. As Senate author of HB 3057, I am grateful that we are taking action and adding a safety rail to guard against corrupt activities.”

The House passed HB3057 99-0 in March and, this week, the Senate passed it 37-0. HB3057 is now at the governor’s desk and available to be signed into law.

Approval of the measure came as Auditor Byrd released an audit of the state’s expenditure of federal funds. In it, she said she uncovered how OMES established new rules for vendor contracts, neglected to provide a competitive bidding process and awarded no-bid contracts with COVID relief money.

The audit led Attorney General Gentner Drummond to call for the resignation of State Tourism Secretary Shelley Zumwalt who was in charge of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission at the time and knowingly awarded millions in contracts to a company where her husband worked as a Vice President. She later was named Tourism Secretary.