Comptroller poses 53 questions on JLL outsourcing contract, awaits answers

State Comptroller Justin Wilson’s office has run a proverbial fine-toothed comb through the governor’s potential building management contract with Chicago- based Jones Lang LaSalle, reports the Times Free Press.

The contract is valued at an estimated $1.9 billion over a five-year period, the amount state and higher education facilities are expected to pay for operating their buildings.

As a result of the review, Wilson said in an interview, administration officials have “already indicated to me they will make changes. Now what they are exactly I don’t know.”

Wilson, Tennessee government’s top watchdog, issued Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration a 53-item list of questions on May 4 about the administration’s proposed contract with Jones Lang, the real estate giant that already manages about 10 percent of state government’s real estate portfolio in areas ranging from security to maintenance, janitorial and groundskeeping.

The contract, which Jones Lang already has signed but the state hasn’t pending review, appears to have the potential to become the largest in Tennessee government history.

… “We’ve sent a number of questions and it’s ongoing discussions about those — we’ll see where they [administration officials] come out with all these answers.”

The first thing examined, Wilson said, was whether the contracting process was fair, noting “that’s sort of the No. 1 issue. Was there real competition?”

Secondly, Wilson said, “and the one we focus on more than anything else, is it technically correct? Does it meet all the legal requirements, do the right sections match up, all the sort of technical things that come up.”

And finally, the comptroller said, “we don’t make a decision whether or not it is a good contract for the state in the sense that it’s the best contract. That’s not really our role. That’s done by the evaluators and then by the agencies and by the administration.

“But,” Wilson added, “we want to make sure there is in fact a rational basis for it. And that’s what we look at.”

The state’s bond counsel, has its own list of questions. That’s because a number of the buildings Jones Lang would provide facilities management for were built through issuance of public debt.

Because the bond counsel questions fall under attorney/client privilege, a Wilson spokesman said Monday, those questions are not publicly available.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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