ARAMARK Correctional Services' $12 million state contract specifically says the state auditor's office "shall have access to any books, documents records or other evidence ... for the purpose of financial audit or program review."
But the company refused to provide key financial information when the auditor's office conducted a recent review of its performance in providing food to inmates of state prisons.
Not surprisingly, then, Auditor Crit Luallen asked the Department of Corrections and the Finance and Administration Cabinet to consider whether ARAMARK was in breach of contract.
Officials of the two agencies haven't discussed the matter yet, but they will schedule a meeting soon, according to Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin.
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But corrections officials stand ready to renew ARAMARK's contract in January — despite the fact they haven't determined whether the company breached its current contract and despite some unfavorable conclusions the auditor's office drew from the records it was able to obtain.
Among the auditor's findings: billing errors resulting in overpayments running into the tens of thousands of dollars, delays in service caused by food shortages, unapproved changes in menus, questions about the quantity of the food being served and a health department report on a possible outbreak of food-related illness among prisoners.
Luallen's office launched its audit after a review of the 2009 riot at Northpoint Training Center listed food service as one of the contributing factors and after corrections officers testifying before a legislative committee spoke of bugs and feces in prison food.
Add all of this together, and you would think the logical next move by Gov. Steve Beshear's administration would be to cancel the ARAMARK contract.
Instead, corrections officials say they expect to renew it. Go figure.