The Legislature finalized a $2.6 million contract with Alvarez & Marshal, a New York-based consulting firm, to conduct an efficiency study of state government (excluding the Legislature). Though the contract will cost $1.6 million more than another bid, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said that “A&M’s executive professionalism and experience made them the top technical choice.” But the firm has a track record in other states of charging more than originally agreed upon and overstating potential savings, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. For example, the firm ended up billing Louisiana more than twice as much as planned, and its proposed efficiencies included such questionable recommendations as applying thinner asphalt overlays to Louisiana highways and having more pregnant women on Medicaid give birth at home. – Phillip Brownlee
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