The Advocate: What has happened with efforts to cut Louisiana state contracts?
By: Elizabeth Crisp

Key Points:
  • In 2016, Edwards, by executive order shortly after taking office, instructed all agencies, boards commissions and other budget units of the executive branch to review all professional, personal and consulting contracts to look for ones that can be eliminated or reduced.

  • In the years since, the number of state contracts reported has officially gone from 14,125 in July 2016 to 10,551 this July. Many are deemed "non-discretionary," which means they are viewed as essential government functions, though it's not clearly defined what that is or why an agency may give the distinction.
 
In a cycle of budget crises, Louisiana leaders said two years ago that the state should reduce the number of outside contracts the state has to cut back costs.
 
Two years later, the contract debate has grown quiet but Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration says that they have curtailed the number of outside consultants, as critics requested, and they continue to try to address the issue.
 
The state contracts with thousands of companies and individuals for various state services. Contractors provide consulting on legal and land issues, review insurance disputes and help address the state's opioid crisis, among other functions – often for tens of thousands of dollars. 
 
"This was one of the areas we've focused on," Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said. "We've had a lot of oversight and scrutiny on what we are doing and the result has been a reduction in contracts. I think you're going to continue to see this."
 
Edwards, by executive order shortly after taking office, instructed all agencies, boards commissions and other budget units of the executive branch to review all professional, personal and consulting contracts to look for ones that can be eliminated or reduced. The Legislature also instructed agencies to cut back on outside contracting.