Democrats Say Nashville Firm Reviewing Benefits Of Outsourcing Is Too Close To Haslam | Nashville Public Radio

Democrats Say Nashville Firm Reviewing Benefits Of Outsourcing Is Too Close To Haslam

Dec 12, 2016

Tennessee Democrats say they're still not sold on the benefits of potentially outsourcing thousands of state jobs at college campuses, parks and prisons.

They're calling for yet another round of analysis on the proposal, even though two so far have found it could save the state more than $35 million a year.

State officials were the first to come up with that estimate for what Tennessee could save from privatizing jobs currently done by public employees.

But when questions were raised about their analysis's validity, Nashville-based KraftCPAs stepped in. And after reviewing the state's calculations for several weeks, the firm has decided Gov. Bill Haslam's administration was more or less correct.

That doesn't satisfy state Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis. He wants an out-of-state firm brought in to take a third look. He notes that Kraft has done work for Haslam's campaign and that some Kraft employees have made donations to it — connections, Democrats say, call Kraft's independence into question.

"These entanglements, the ones that are right there in front of us, really undermine the credibility of the review," Harris says.

That's a charge Haslam rejects. He says KraftCPA is one of the most respected accounting firms in Tennessee.

"They don't need this work for their business," he says.

State officials add Kraft was the only qualified bidder on the project. And, they say, the governor had no role in its selection.

But Democrats' complaints may at least be slowing the process of outsourcing. After a year's debate, the Haslam administration still has not made a final decision.