Connecticut’s newly appointed nonprofit liaison is already pushing for changes in the way the state works with nonprofit groups.
Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat who took office last month, appointed Deborah Heinrich, a former state representative, to the post of Nonprofit Liaison to the Governor as part of an effort to make sure the state works more effectively with nonprofits within its borders.
Ms. Heinrich is moving quickly, prompting the administration to issue a memo last week that outlines ways to improve the way state contracts are awarded to nonprofits.
Following Ms. Heinrich’s recommendations, the head of the Office of Policy and Management instructed state agencies to devise an action plan by March 31 to ensure that contracts for health and human services are completed quickly.
Many nonprofits in Connecticut complain that contracts are often put into effect long after they start providing the services, forcing them to take out lines of credit while waiting to get paid.
“The late execution of contracts imposes costs on nonprofit providers and is not an acceptable business practice for either the state or its providers,” says the administration’s memo.
It asks agencies to outline how to ensure that work on at least 95 percent of their contracts is completed at least 15 days before the service is scheduled to start.
The memo also asks agencies to submit a plan for reducing the average number of contracts they have with individual nonprofits, for example by consolidating them or offering multiyear contracts. It says a new group will look at other ways to streamline the contracting process.
The Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, which has pushed for a cabinet-level position like this, welcomed the suggestions.
“It is clear that after less than a month on the job, Ms. Heinrich is already having a significant impact on how the state does business with its nonprofit partners,” Ron Cretaro, the executive director, said in a statement.
The governor last month said the new post would supervise a Community Nonprofit Human Services Cabinet, but that idea has been scrapped, Ms. Heinrich says.
Instead, she hopes that an existing body created by the Legislature, a Commission on Nonprofit Health and Human Services, can be transformed into a permanent panel after it issues its own recommendations on ways to improve the relationship between the state and nonprofits, which are due by April 1. That body includes state agency heads, legislators, and community representatives.
Ms. Heinrich says that she will focus initially on nonprofits that have state contracts but eventually plans to branch out. “My job encompasses all nonprofits in the state,” she says.
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