M. Scott Carter reports on politics, legislation and other issues from the State Capitol.
The Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission, criticized earlier this summer for violating the Open Meeting Act, is seeking a public relations consultant.
According to an Aug. 25 bid solicitation obtained by Oklahoma Watch, the Workers Compensation Commission is “soliciting quotes for public relations consulting to assist the Workers Compensation Commission with day-to-day public (and) media relations.”
The solicitation listed a deadline four days out, saying the bids were needed as soon as possible.
The bid request contains 17 requirements, including assisting the commission with day-to-day media relations, coordinating media statements with the three-member commission and its staff, and providing crisis communication training and counsel on the issues related to the Open Meeting and Open Records acts.
The requirements also include drafting press statements, editorials and letters to the editor, and offering advice on coordination with “third-party commission advocates.”
Workers Compensation Commission Executive Director Rick Farmer said third-party advocates “could possibly include” organizations such as the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce.
The consultant would be required to monitor related stories and issues for the commission 24 hours a day seven days a week, the document indicates. All data related to commission business that is submitted to the contract PR consultant or its employees or contractors will be treated as confidential.
Farmer said a PR consultant has not been hired yet. “We did receive a number of bids and we are evaluating those,” Farmer said.
On July 8, the Workers Compensation Commission laid off 16 employees. However, after questions were raised about the agency’s action, commissioners held meeting in August to re-do the layoffs.