Baker admin awarded $1.6M contract to controversial consulting firm

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BOSTON, MASS. – JULY 8, 2020: Gov. Charlie Baker held a State House news conference Wednesday to announce a new COVID-19 testing initiative dubbed Stop The Spread. [Photo By Sam Doran/State House News Service]

BOSTON (SHNS) – The Baker administration agreed to pay McKinsey & Co. nearly $1.6 million to study the “future of work” in Massachusetts, according to a copy of the contract with the global firm that has come under fire in recent days by legislators and Attorney General Maura Healey.

The governor’s office awarded the contract Tuesday, but until Friday had not released the details of its agreement with the global consulting firm. McKinsey agreed to produce the report sought by Baker to help plan for a post-pandemic economic recovery within the next seven weeks.

In return, Massachusetts will pay the firm $1,596,500, according to the fixed-price contract. While it’s unclear how many other firms bid on the project, McKinsey highlighted its experience working in the state and with the Baker administration as a reason its bid stood out.

The company said it has worked with agencies on over 30 projects over the past five years “giving us insight into the broader political, regulatory, labor relations, infrastructure, and public relations environment in Massachusetts.” “Our experience working with the Governor’s office and Commonwealth leaders allows us to be hypothesis-driven and fast-moving towards strategies underpinned by deep analytics and insights from across the economic landscape,” the bid document stated.

McKinsey Director of Client Services for Massachusetts Nav Singh will be the senior partner responsible for the “future of work” project, while Gayatri Shenai, a partner in New York, will be the day-to-day point of contact.

Healey on Thursday called it “outrageous” that Baker would give McKinsey, which has been paid more than $17 million by the state since last summer, more business after the firm agreed to a $573 million settlement with her office and other states over its role in helping Purdue Pharma “turbocharge” opioid sales.

Sen. Jo Comerford also raised her concerns regarding McKinsey with Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders on Tuesday during an oversight hearing on the state’s vaccination effort. McKinsey has been closely involved with the state’s COVID-19 response, and Sudders said she would consider the lawmaker’s objection.

Healey’s office has debarred at least 65 firms since 2015 for violating certain state laws, including labor laws, effectively prohibiting them from doing business with the state for a set period of time. McKinsey was accused by Healey’s office of violating the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act before reaching a settlement but has not been debarred and her office could not immediately say whether it was ever considered.

Administration officials also note that state contracting laws prohibit refusing to do business with qualified and high-scoring bidders for state contracts, though it was unclear if other firms bid on the “future of work” contract.

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