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CPBJ Extra Blog

Corbett's no-cost contract comes with $1.7M cost?

Brent Burkey
Brent Burkey

The no-competitive-bid part of a contract for state Web portal services already raised the ire of at least one state lawmaker, and now he's really upset with a reported request of more than $1.7 million in payments from Gov. Tom Corbett.

Why, you ask? Contracts usually require payment for services in one way, shape or form.

Well, he says the deal was pitched as coming with no costs to the state, according to a news release. So yeah, $1.7 million is just a little over budget by that measure.

For his part, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Allegheny and Beaver counties, now wants state Treasurer Rob McCord to halt the requested payments to NICUSA Inc., the release stated. At least long enough to sort out what's going on.

NICUSA was contracted, according to Matzie, without a competitive bid process even though there appears to be possible competition in the market.

NICUSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kansas-based NIC Inc., a publicly traded company, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Services for Pennsylvania commenced in 2012, according to the filing.

Kelli Roberts, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said there are competitors to NIC when you look at each individual service that NIC provides. But no firm in the market puts them all under one roof and has them tailored to state government, she said.

On the issue of the $1.7 million, Roberts said that, in the long run, NIC will be compensated by small surcharges on some online transactions paid by users.

But the state is paying the $1.7 million as a kickstart to improvements to state Web portals, she said. It is unclear whether the state will recoup this upfront money over time, Roberts said.

Brent Burkey covers retail, tourism, and Lebanon and York counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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