Drew Erdmann is the first chief operating officer in Missouri state history. He should be the last.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens created the job after taking office in 2017, suggesting that adding another six-figure salary to the state bureaucracy somehow would improve efficiency.
Erdmann was tasked with eliminating redundancy in state government, but it's his $125,000-a-year job that in fact seems redundant. Don't Missouri voters expect the governor himself to actually take the helm?
Missourians deserve better than what House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty called “an excessively paid staffer with an empty title.”
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“Missouri taxpayers should demand action to prevent the disgraced former governor’s cronies from further raiding the state treasury,” McCann said in a statement.
It's an example of the wasteful spending routinely decried by lawmakers, particularly those in the party pledging allegiance to small government.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson so far has held off on making sweeping changes to Greitens’ cabinet since assuming office earlier this month. But the newly sworn-in Republican governor need not be constrained by the previous administration's errors in judgment.
There's no good reason for Parson to defend the state’s chief operating officer — or the decision to award a multimillion-dollar contract to Erdmann's former employer.
Parson should show the COO the door and then rethink his support for a bidding process that earned Erdmann’s former firm a $2.7 million contract to assess Missouri’s Medicaid program.
The state Office of Administration’s contract with New York-based McKinsey & Co. raises a long list of questions about how, exactly, Erdmann's former employer beat out other big-name consulting companies that submitted lower bids. McKinsey's bid was more than those of three other bidders combined. And the public version of McKinsey's bid was the only one that contained redacted information.
No wonder one of the other companies wants a do-over and has called for the contract to be rescinded and rebid.
Sarah Steelman, commissioner of the Office of Administration, said the office’s procurement process is transparent, fair and objective. And the governor's office has voiced support for what it calls a "fully transparent process." So why is the contract shrouded in secrecy and marred by blacked-out sections that the public can't read?
That starts with relieving Erdmann of his duties.
And it should conclude with the Office of Administration rescinding the contract with McKinsey and allowing other companies to submit bids in a truly transparent process.