Smith Warren Management Services resumed administrative services to Alabama’s Board of Massage Therapy on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, screenshots of the Board’s website showed a message stating, “Due to the expiration of the contract to provide administrative services, the staff will be unable to process license renewals, answer telephone calls and emails. Services will resume once the pending contract is approved.”

Smith Warren Management Services manages a variety of state licensing boards in Alabama. 

Keith Warren, executive director of the company, told 1819 News, “As of this morning, I just decided it’s not fair to the citizens and the licensed massage therapists, so we resumed full services this morning.”

Members of the Joint Interim Sunset Committee voted in September to recommend ending the current Alabama Board of Massage Therapy, one of the boards managed by Warren, at the end of fiscal year 2024. Warren said he’s attempting to correct the Board’s issues.

A $150,000 contract with Smith Warren Management Services, beginning on November 1 and ending on October 31, 2024, was held up by the Contract Review Committee on November 2. Members of the Committee can place an up to 45-day hold on any contract that comes before the Committee, but they can’t stop it from going into effect. Forty-five days from November 2 would end on December 17. An emergency contract approved by the Board last week so Smith Warren Management Services wouldn’t have to manage the Board without a contract and possibly without compensation during the up to 45-day period wasn’t approved by the Department of Finance.

Warren told Contract Review Committee Chair Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) in a letter on Wednesday, “Effective this morning, my company has resumed providing full administrative services for the Board of Massage Therapy.” 

“All messages referencing services suspended until an executive contract was in place have been removed. I apologize for this inconvenience and, particularly to the citizens of the State of Alabama. They should be protected at all costs and not affected by the concerns this Committee and the Sunset Committee may have with me and my firm,” Warren said in the letter. “I would like an opportunity to speak with you to answer any questions the Committee has about this contract that was procured based on the procurement laws. Mrs. Cook and the Attorney General’s Office, along with these board members, have done an outstanding job abiding by all the requirements to legally procure these services.” 

According to an agenda from the November 2 meeting, the administrative services provided in the contract with Smith Warren Management Services involve licensing, complaint investigations, and inspections. The Board licenses over 2,100 massage therapists and 700 massage therapy establishments.

Roberts told 1819 News on Wednesday he was “grateful that that decision was made” to resume administrative services.

State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) told 1819 News on Wednesday the saga with the Board of Massage Therapy was another example of why licensing boards need to be consolidated in the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.

“The Legislature is poised to take up legislation again this session that I have drafted right now and am in the process of circulating that basically consolidates the administrative functions of about 30 different occupational boards,” Elliott said. “This type of yo-yo back-and-forth indecisiveness highlights the need for more steady professional administration of these boards.”

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