Thanks to the relentless efforts of Senate Republicans in uncovering massive fraud at one of the state’s COVID contract testing sites, the Newsom administration has “quietly” ordered the closure of the lab. The administration plans to cut ties on the controversial $1.7 billion no-bid contract with PerkinElmer to operate the Valencia Branch Laboratory (VBL). In 2021, Senate Republicans urged Newsom to halt the auto-renewal of the lab and demanded the release of an investigative report conducted by his administration on the troubling deficiencies at the state-funded COVID lab.
“The Newsom administration failed, and this cancelation is cleaning up a mess that an accountable government should have prevented,” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk(R-Santa Clarita). “It’s interesting that the no-bid contract was ‘quietly’ canceled, unlike the massive fanfare that Newsom displayed when he celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the lab in October 2020.
“This lab failed to serve Californians, and the state delayed accountability for months – all at our expense. Senate Republicans have introduced accountability measures this year to ensure this can never happen again.”
As part of his accountability and transparency legislative package, Leader Wilk introduced three bills – Senate Bill 947, Senate Bill 1271, and Senate Bill 1367.
- SB 947 would empower employees of state government contracts to blow the whistle on fraud, waste, abuse, and threats to public health and safety by granting them the whistleblower protections already afforded to state employees. SB 947 unanimously passed out of Senate Judiciary and has received the full support of the National Whistleblower Center.
- SB 1271 would require no-bid contracts of $25 million or more to be subject to an oversight hearing conducted by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee prior to renewal or extension of the contract.
- SB 1367 would prohibit a state agency from awarding a contract to entities that have provided behested payments on the governor’s behalf in the preceding 12 months.
SB 1271 and SB 1367 are set for a hearing on April 26 in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.