The Arkansas secretary of state has selected Hartford, Conn.-based Reframe Solutions as the vendor to build a new campaign finance and reporting system for the office, a spokesman for Secretary of State John Thurston.
Since the current system’s launch in 2017, Arkansas’ computerized system for tracking political campaign contributions and expenditures has drawn complaints from candidates, elected officials and the public. Complaints about the current system include that it is outdated, clunky, inaccurate, tedious and not easy to use.
The Legislative Council voted Thursday to grant a request from the Republican secretary of state’s office for $1.083.679 billion in spending authority for the new system to be financed from the Central Services fund of the status
The council’s performance evaluation and expenditure review subcommittee recommended on Tuesday that the council approve the request with no questions asked.
The requested amount will be used by the secretary of state to award a professional service contract to provide an updated and integrated online search campaign filing and reporting system in accordance with Act 1029 of 2021, he wrote in a letter from Chief Deputy Secretary of State Bill Huffman. dated June 21 to the Secretary of Administration and Finance of the Department of State, Larry Walther.
Reframe Solutions, Tyler Technologies, TCS, Tecuity, DataScout, Maplight and GoCivix submitted bids to provide the new campaign finance and reporting system, said Kevin Niehaus, who is director of government affairs at the office of the secretary of state and head of the office. spokesperson
“After a thorough evaluation of the submitted proposals, the secretary of state has selected Reframe Solutions as the vendor to build a new campaign finance system,” he said in a written statement Thursday.
Seven companies submitted proposals and the evaluations were scored 30 percent on qualifications, 40 percent on proposed system design and 30 percent on price, Niehaus said.
“The price quoted by Reframe Solutions was $997,650 to build the system with $108,000 in annual maintenance,” he said.
“The amount we asked for [from Arkansas Legislative Council’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Subcommittee] it would cover the cost of building the system and the first year of maintenance plus taxes,” Niehaus said.
The secretary of state’s legal department is working on a contract, and the secretary of state’s office expects the process to take about a year to complete, he said.
“The system that Reframe Solutions showed us was much easier to use,” Niehaus said. “The system gives the Secretary of State’s office much more control and can be easily customized to fit the needs of our users. One new feature this system will have is the ability to search for donors.”
The secretary of state’s office and lawmakers have referred to problems with the current campaign finance filing system as glitches, and the glitches are hardly secret.
Arkansas law since 2017 requires state candidates to file campaign finance information electronically, rather than on paper, with the secretary of state. Until 2021, the law listed only two exceptions: lack of access to technology and substantial hardship.
Act 1029 of 2021 affected the two listed exceptions, instead requiring a notarized affidavit on a form prepared by the secretary of state’s office.
Despite its difficulties, Arkansas’ current campaign reporting system was a step forward for the state.
In 2014, Arkansas was among the last remaining states nationally that did not require digital political contributions or expense reports.
Researchers and the public curious about political money had to study hundreds or thousands of pages that were sometimes handwritten, sometimes illegible.
Former Rep. Jana Della Rosa, R-Rogers, sponsored a 2015 bill that sought to require candidates to file campaign finance reports in a then-existing computer database. Governor Asa Hutchinson supported the idea.
His first effort failed, but Della Rosa succeeded in 2017. That’s also when the state introduced the current computerized filing system at a cost of $763,820. The start date was October 1, 2017.
The tender attracted one vendor, PCC Technology Inc. of Connecticut, according to Niehaus. “They were the only company that responded that they could do it in the time frame,” he said.
Installed under then-Secretary of State Mark Martin, “it wasn’t a system that we were necessarily into or happy with,” Niehaus said last year, and Thurston “hasn’t been a fan” of the system either, and has favored a new one. “