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Public Oversight Hearing on Contracting and Procurement in the District of Columbia: The Utilization of Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises

Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Ella Thomas

Good morning, Chairperson Orange, Chairperson Brown and members of the Council. I am Ella Thomas, Interim Director of the Department of Mental Health. I am happy to report the Department of Mental Health exceeded its FY 2005 annual goal for contracting with local, small and disadvantaged business enterprises.

In FY 2005, we exceeded our target of $2,583,031 by $180,346.92 for a total of $2,763,377.92 or 107 percent of our goal.

I want to commend our contracts and procurement staff for performing so well.

I also would like to note that we issued contracts in excess of $4 million to a number of LSDBEs to provide direct mental health services to District residents. While these are LSDBEs, nevertheless, they are not counted in our goal because they are not part of our operational expenses.

The FY05 expendable budget was $5,166,062. One-half of that amount -- $2,583,031 -- was the DMH annual set-aside target for LSDBEs.

The types of goods and services procured by DMH are those typically associated with a provider of direct health care services. This includes, administrative/ operating needs, e.g., office equipment/supplies, specialized consultant services, staffing services, printing, etc.

As a provider of direct and indirect health care services for the District’s mentally ill population, DMH operates St. Elizabeths Hospital, a full service hospital providing inpatient psychiatric care, as well as the DC Community Services Agency, which provides community-based mental health services and supports to children, youth, adults and their families.

Typical acquisitions include medical/surgical equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals, food, laboratory equipment and services, and a myriad of other goods and services required to deliver the level of care provided by DMH.

DMH has adopted an affirmative policy to commit to “Buy D.C.” This policy requires that DMH staff first seek LSDBEs to fill the requirements for goods and services that historically have been acquired through federal suppliers or those beyond the metropolitan Washington area.

This policy includes a commitment to purchase food, medical supplies and equipment, and other equipment necessary for operation from DC Supply Schedule contractors with a view toward eventually acquiring all available goods from LSDBEs that are in the best interests of the District.

The DC Supply Schedule has proven invaluable as an efficient means of procurement. DMH has established contractual relationships with numerous vendors on the DC Supply Schedule.

As we move into the construction phase of the new St. Elizabeths Hospital building, DMH has contracted with construction companies that have partnered with LSDBEs. We also issued our first hospital construction-related contracts for signage and early roads and utility work to LSDBEs.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify before the committee. I would be happy to answer your questions.