Maryland's new secretary of transportation, Hermann K. Intemann, told the Board of Public Works today that he needs another 10 days before recommending whether the management contract for the Baltimore subway shoule be awarded to a private firm or done with state employees.
Intemann, who got the job after Harry R. Hughes resigned in protest of the board's refusal to award the $25 million contract to the Ralph M. Parsons Co., got permission today from the board to reopen negotiations with Parsons, while at the same time continuing efforts to hire the experts needed for the state to do the job itself.
Today's action set the stage for the possible reversal of the boards action March 2 when it rejected the Parsons proposal. Hughes subsequently quit his post in the cabinet of Gov. Marvin Mandel, coontinding that Mandel's friend, Victor Frenkil, whose construction firm was part of a different venture that sought the contract, had "tampered" with the selection proceture.
Since Hughes' resignation on May 26, two state legislative committees and the U.S. General Accounting Office have been looking into complaints - by Hughes and the Parsons firm - that the board acted wrongfully in rejecting Parsons' bid.
Intemann, an adviser to Republican County Executive Robert Pascal of Anne Arundel County until he was named last week by Acting Gov. Blair Lee III to succeed Hughes, told the works board today that the job of managing the subway project cannot be done inhouse unless he can hire five top-level engineers.
Because the federal government will pay 80 per cent of the cost of building the first 8.3-mile segment of the subway. Intemann said he checked yesterday with "our major stockholder, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA)," which indicated it would support either approach proposed by Intemann. Federal officials rejected a third option, Intemann said, that called for reopening the bidding process.
Although Hughes and others have suggested that Frenkil used his influence with Mandel and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein to block awarding the contract to Parsons, works board members (originally Mandel, Goldstein and State Treasurer William S. James) insisted they didn't like the method of selection or terms of the contract.
To address the latter problem, Intemann said he plans to negotiate with Parsons officials in the next 10 days in an attempt to get more financial control and annual reapproval over the five-year contract.
Parsons' vice president Joseph Volpe told a legislative oversight committee yesterday that his firm was prepared to agree to annual budget control and other contract refinements sought by the state.
Intemann, a retired vice president of Union Carbide Corp., called on his personal friendships with leading business executives to examine the feasibility of hiring experts so the state could do the contract management without the aid of a private firm. Intemann said Lewis Foy, board chairman of Bethlehem Steel, and Robert Roderick, president of United States Steel, along with Union Carbide officials, voluntarily sent engineers and contract management chiefs to Annapolis to confer with him.
A major stumbling block to hiring experts is finding a group of highly skilled executives who can and will work together within a state agency, Intemann said. He comparel the task to equipping an expansion fotball team without the help of other club owners. But he said if the state can find enough "free agents" and then offer them sufficient money, it might be possible.