Gov. Jerry Brown handed labor a legislative loss on Sunday by rejecting a union-backed bill that would have forced the government to post outsource contracts of $5,000 or more on the Reporting Transparency in Government website and then on the Financial Information System for California website, which is still under construction.
Brown reasoned that the information should already be posted on the state's "eProcurement" website. "I am issuing an Executive Order to ensure that these contracts continue to be posted on this site," Brown wrote in his Sunday veto message.
Public employee unions and Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, argued that the state needs to make outsource contract information at least as easy to access as what the state spends elsewhere. A legislative analysis of the measure quoted Eng:
Currently expenditures and staffing levels associated with the use of civil service workers is routinely reported to the Legislature and is readily available to the public through the budget process each year. The same reporting requirements should apply for personal service and consulting contracts.
Public employee unions like the bill as a way to put a spotlight on outsourcing. They've long maintained that privatizing takes away work that their members can provide for less money than contractors, and that the practice shortchanges the state when companies cut corners to maximize profits. SEIU Local 1000 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees were among the unions that supported the bill as a way to make state contract costs more easily accessible.
Businesses that contract with the state say it costs less to hire their services short-term than to employ state workers for a lifetime. And, they say, competition ensures that they have to do good work to get more state business.
Brown's veto was the third time that contract transparency legislation written by Eng has suffered a gubernatorial veto. During the 2009-10 session, former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected Eng's AB 1899 and AB 756. He said that the bills duplicated existing reporting policies.
Around that same time, Schwarzenegger launched the government transparency website. Originally intended as an easy-access clearinghouse for administration executives' expense reports and statements of economic interest, he later ordered departments post all manner of audits and reports on the site.
Brown mentioned in his veto message that he would issue an order to make sure "contracts continue to be posted" on the eProcure website. Executive Order B-12-11 does that -- and also rescinds Schwarzenegger's orders to post information on the government transparency site.
Jerry Brown's AB 172 Veto Message