Lawyers for the Federal Communications Commission have criticized the agency for awarding contracts without competitive bidding, singling out $275,000 in consultant fees paid to two Washington firms to help to FCC relocate in new offices.
In an internal report, made public yesterday on Capitol Hill, FCC attorneys said the agency failed to follow federal contracting procedures in hiring the Julian J. Studley real estate firm and Computer Science Corp. to plan a proposed move by the agency from downtown Washington to a controversial Rosslyn office tower.
Studley has been paid about $83,000 during the past year and Computer Science Corp. about $193,000.
According to the report, the FCC hired the computer firm at the recommendation of a Studley agent, Barbara Pryor, "the wife of David Pryor who, at the time, was in the employ of CSC."
It added that the FCC official who originally suggested that Studley and Barbara Pryor be hired "is personally acquainted with the Pryors, was formerly employed by CSC, where Mr. Pryor was his supervisor, and is a former tenant or lessee of a personal residence owned by the Pryors."
Although the FCC's contracting officer is required by U.S. regulations to be involved in any agency contracts, the report noted, he "was not privy to or involve in any of these negotiations."
Barbara Pryor, Computer Science and the FCC previously have defended the arrangement as proper.
The report was released by a Senate Juriciary subcommittee looking into government contracting practices. Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) yesterday joined in criticizing the FCC for what he called its haste in seeking noncompetitive bids.
"What's the damage to Uncle Sam if you move two months later?" Bacus asked agency officials called to testify before the committee. Baucus said the $680-a-day paid to Studley was "almost twice as much as you pay your highest paid communications consultant. . . about $400 a day."
FCC executive director Richard D. Lichtwardt and his assistant, Thomas Campbell, defended the action as a question of time, saying attempts to get the General Services Administration to find it space had been fruitless. g
"Increasing frustration graduated into compelling need," Campbell said, and FCC Chairman Charles Ferris "gave us a direct charge in this matter" to expedite the search for additional or totally new office space for the agency's 1,700 employes.
Both Campbell and Lichtwardt said the Studley and CSC contracts are under review. Campbell also conceded that "the circumstances were not as compelling as they could be for avoiding competitive bidding.
The agency has proposed moving to the Twin Towers office complex in Rosslyn, a controversial pair of 30-story towers now under construction and already visible from parts of downtown Washington. Efforts by two U.S. agencies earlier this year to halt work on the towers on grounds that they mar the capital's skyline were unsuccessful.
The FCC is negotiating to lease at least 22 floors of one of the towers at an annual rental of close to $8 million.