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Consultant picked by Utah prison relocation committee

Published October 9, 2013 8:49 pm

Corrections • The firm would help plan for current, future needs.
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A Florida-based firm with national expertise in helping states and local governments figure out how to best provide correctional services emerged as the Prison Relocation and Development Authority's top consulting candidate Wednesday.

The board selected MGT of America Inc., which also has offices in Texas, California and Washington, to be its master planning and programming consultant as it considers the feasibility of relocating the Utah State Prison. The state must still negotiate a contract with the firm, which is expected to happen within days.

The Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) has initially agreed to spend up to $500,000 on the consulting firm's advisory services. That includes refining solicitations for firms interested in building a new prison; redeveloping the nearly 700-acres the Utah State Prison currently occupies; or doing both projects.

The consultant also will help PRADA figure out what kind of prison facility will best help the state meet current and future needs.

A five-member subcommittee also heard presentations Wednesday from FFKR and Vanir; all three interviews were closed to the public. The group reconvened in a public session afterward and members said MGT was a clear standout based on four criteria: past performance, management plan, schedule and qualifications.

"One of the primary considerations was that we were getting the best thinking on what's happening nationally with prisons," said Lane Summerhays, PRADA chairman. "They just made a very compelling presentation on their skills."

Summerhays also described MGT's task as protecting the interests of the state and the Utah Department of Corrections as the feasibility of moving the prison is considered.

MGT, founded in 1974 in Florida, has provided management research, advice and consulting services on a variety of federal, state and local projects, according to its website. It lists criminal justice and security as a particular area of focus.

Among MGT's past projects: a performance audit for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections; a system assessment and jail population study for Hays County, Texas; and an operations review for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. It also has done staffing reviews for two corrections departments.

Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said the process boosted his confidence that the committee will be able to make a good recommendation by January.

"I'm much more relaxed about being able to meet these tight deadlines and do some really good work," Hutchings said.

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