City employee was fired over botched taxi meter contract

November 14, 2012

Contracting “improprieties” mean taxi riders will keep waiting for credit-card readers. (Mike DeBonis — The Washington Post)

A city contracting officer was fired over problems in the solicitation of a contract for new taxi “smart meters,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray acknowledged Wednesday.

The officer, identified in Contract Appeals Board documents as John R. Dean, “was dismissed” as a result of contract solicitation issues, Gray said during a news conference. Those issues, the board found while tossing the $35 million contract award, included “numerous unexplained and glaring errors, inconsistencies and oversights.”

The board also found that Dean, who could not be reached for comment, essentially punted on his responsibility to perform an independent analysis of the various bids. Instead, judges wrote, he “cut and paste” the nonbinding recommendations of a technical review panel into a document justifying his decision.

“I am hugely disappointed in the performance of those who were involved in the contracting process,” Gray said.

The appeals board ordered the city to restart the bidding process with the original winner, VeriFone, and the two appellants, Creative Mobile Technologies and RideCharge. But Gray said his administration had not yet determined how precisely to proceed: “What we’re looking for is, what is the most effective way to move forward? Will we be able to modify this process to make sure it’s sound? We clearly don’t want to revisit this process again.”

He acknowledged his original goal, to roll out the new meters to all 6,500 city cabs in time for the inauguration festivities, “clearly cannot happen now.”

Nikita Stewart contributed to this item.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · November 14, 2012