Allegheny County controller and administrative services director butt heads over piggyback contracts

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner issued an audit on May 8, 2019 criticizing the county government’s use of piggyback contracts. Wagner is pictured here at a Jan. 23, 2019 event held in response to a fire at the Clairton Coke Works. (Photo by Oliver Morrison/PublicSource)

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In an audit released May 8, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner called out the county government’s widespread use of “piggyback” contracts as potentially wasteful and lacking transparency.However, in response to the audit, Jerry Tyskiewicz, the county’s director of administrative services, wrote to Wagner that the audit mischaracterized how the county uses piggyback contracts and argued that piggyback contracts are beneficial to taxpayers.Piggyback contracts are contracts for goods or services — for instance, copy machines or computer software — that were negotiated by one government or agency and used by another government without a separate public bid. For example, if the state government has a contract for road salt, Allegheny County could piggyback on that contract and get the same price from the vendor without negotiating a separate contract.“Piggybacking is essentially like buying everything you need at the store closest to your home. It may be convenient, but you don’t know you’re getting the best price unless you shop around,” Wagner said in a statement on Wednesday. “This probably isn’t smart for the average consumer, but for government, it’s an abdication of our obligation to look for the best deal for our taxpayers.”

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Allegheny County controller and administrative services director butt heads over piggyback contracts

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