In Pa. government, ‘emergencies’ often aren’t
Those numbered balls that you see bouncing around in televised Pennsylvania lottery drawings aren’t just painted ping-pong balls. They might make you a fortune but, as it turns out, they cost a small one.
As revealed by PennLive, Each foam ball is designed and painted to be identifiable from any angle, and each contains a microchip to preclude tampering and ensure security and each drawing’s integrity. The state Lottery Commission recently purchased 30 sets of the custom-manufactured balls for $41,280 — $80 for each ball.
Remarkably, the commission purchased the balls through the state government’s emergency procurement process, even though replacing the balls is a matter of routine.
In the lottery case, officials said they had to invoke an emergency to keep warranty provisions intact. But they knew the warranty provisions long before they invoked an emergency.
Apparently, the state is beset by a wide array of emergencies. According to PennLive, agencies had used the emergency process 98 times this year as of May 18, about five times a week.
Republican state Rep. Jason Ortitay of Allegheny County has introduced a bill to better define emergencies for procurement purposes. They would include threats to safety, health and welfare, or when unforeseen circumstances relative to contracts hinders an agency’s ability to operate.
Routine lack of government transparency is an emergency of its own that lawmakers can help to resolve by passing Ortitay’s bill.