When Richard Nedelkoff was first appointed conservator, I wrote on Grits about "One potential conflict of interest not reported in initial press accounts: Eckerd is one of the private contractors competing to take over TYC's role housing young offenders (10-13 year olds), and Nedelkoff personally was involved this summer in soliciting the Texas contract, which would have been the company's first in the state."
Thankfully, according to the Austin Statesman ("New conservator says company withdrew bid on state contract, Jan. 9), the new conservator recognized the conflict and took steps to resolve it:
Eckerd withdrew its proposal in December, when Nedelkoff was appointed to the Texas job.Of course, that begs the bigger question: Given TYC's lack of oversight of its private vendor at the Coke County facility, should TYC be privatizing more youth detention services at all? I'm hoping once Nedelkoff wraps his brain around the scope of the problem, he'll put the kabosh on that ill-considered plan.
"I knew there would be a perception of a conflict ... so to remove that, Eckerd withdrew," Nedelkoff said. "It was the right thing to do. Eckerd will not be pursuing business with the state."
In recent months, before Nedelkoff was appointed, agency officials were criticized for awarding a no-bid contract to a politically connected Austin firm, AutoGov Inc., to provide software for classifying and tracking incarcerated youths.
Eckerd provides highly regarded programs for at-risk and incarcerated youths, operating residential and community-based programs in 10 states.
Youth Commission spokesman Jim Hurley said officials are evaluating a dozen or so responses received from bidders. No date has been set for awarding the residential-services contracts.