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Published: Tuesday, 5/22/2001

Pact renewed, increased for child support

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, criticized for awarding multimillion-dollar contracts without competitive bidding, yesterday won approval to extend one of those contracts another year at a 50 percent higher price tag.

Ironically, the extension was granted to give the state more time to prepare to put the contract for centralized collection and disbursement of child support up for competitive bid this fall. The Ohio Controlling Board approved a $46.4 million, one-year extension for Bank One, up $16.7 million from the current year.

Christopher Carlson, the department's chief of contract administration, said the increased costs are caused by changes made in services required of Bank One and a higher-than-expected volume of cases. The bank handles the financial end of a statewide system that replaced 88 systems run by counties.

Bank One had been doing business with the Ohio treasurer's office when it was handed the child-support contract two years ago. A prior competitive bidding process had yielded just one bidder, Lockheed Martin, whose bid was rejected as too high.

Since then, Bank One has been criticized for charging a $3 check-cashing fee for child support recipients, a practice it has since abandoned.



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