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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas lawmakers have rebuked a state agency for botching millions of dollars in contracts.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission discovered earlier this month that staff members incorrectly scored five managed care contracts worth an estimated $600 million, The Austin American-Statesman reported . The State Auditor’s Office released a report this week highlighting a series of problems with the agency’s procurement processes.

Four staff members have since either resigned or been fired.

State lawmakers on Wednesday called the contracting problems a system failure by the commission. Rep. Mary Gonzalez, a Clint Democrat, said she fears such errors leading to companies not wanting to conduct business with the state.

The contractors were to provide health care to low-income children in rural parts of the state, as well as Hidalgo County in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The managed care organizations would’ve provided services from Sept. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2019. The agency said it’ll extend contracts of existing vendors so CHIP patients won’t experience an interruption in services.

“I’m sitting before you because we failed. We let you down. We let the governor down. We let taxpayers down. We let our vendors down. We let our fellow professionals down,” Commissioner Charles Smith told the committee during a hearing Wednesday. “Everyone deserves better.”

Smith said he’s working to address the contracting issues, including hiring a temporary quality control team to check scoring.

The agency handles about 108,000 contracts that are worth $60 billion, a figure that has grown over the last several years as the agency has transitioned much of its health care services to private managed care organizations. Such organizations receive about $30 billion in state funds each year, promising to improve health care delivery at a lower price than Texas.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman,