Metro audit documents indicate that about 12 Metro employes and about 47 employes of two firms that manage construction projects for Metrorail or act as consultants accepted meals and entertainment from an electrical contractor during a five-year period in the 1970s, Metro General Manager Richard Page said yesterday.
Page's disclosure was a new elaboration on statements last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation that its investigators found evidence of gratuities from contractors and loose auditing when they examined selected Metro contracts. The day that report was released, Metro said it knew of about 13 people who had allegedly accepted gratuities.
Yesterday Page significantly broadened that number with his disclosure of a second set of people who had allegedly taken gratuities. Information on the second set grew out of expense accounts filed by employes of Fischbach & Moore, a Dallas-based electrical contractor, showing they had treated about 31 employes of Bechtel Associates, which manages rail construction for Metro, to meals and entertainment, Page said.
Some of the Bechtel employes are or were "resident engineers" or negotiators, other Metro officials said. Resident engineers act as senior supervisors at job sites. Negotiators represent Metro when contractors seek changes in the terms of ongoing projects.
Metro officials said they did not know whether any of the Bechtel resident engineers or negotiators who allegedly took the gifts were working on Fischbach & Moore's projects at the time.
About 16 employes of Deleuw Cather, Metro's engineering consultant, also are included in the second set as well as about 12 Metro employes, according to Page.
The gratuities reportedly were given between 1972 and 1977, Metro said, and included golf green fees, fishing trips and theater tickets. No dollar amounts are given, according to Metro.
Spokesmen for Fischbach & Moore, Bechtel and Deleuw Cather all said yesterday that they were not familiar with the allegations and could not comment.
Transportation Department Inspector General Joseph P. Welsch said last week that his office had informed the Justice Department of 10 to 15 Metro employes who allegedly took gratuities. His investigators are trying to determine whether gratuities influenced decision-making and violated federal conflict-of-interest laws.
Welsch said this week that he may refer to the Justice Department information on employes of private firms acting as agents for Metro if his department's lawyers decide that the employes are subject to the federal conflict-of-interest laws.
Without identifying any parties involved, Welsch said there was evidence that acceptance of gratuities had continued at Metro in 1980 and 1981.
Incidents of gratuities that Metro disclosed last week involved past or present Metro employes and another contractor, General Railway Signal Co. of New York, contractor for Metro's automatic train control system. The company's public affairs office did not return repeated phone calls from a reporter.
At that time, Metro also disclosed that two Bechtel employes had been fired for accepting gifts from contractors.
Metro officials say the gratuities from Fischbach & Moore and GRS came to light years ago but were not made public. Findings about Fischbach & Moore surfaced in 1977, Page said, after Metro auditors examined the firm's expense accounts relating to a request for change in the terms of work the company, which has had over $100 million in Metro contracts, was doing as a subcontractor for General Railway Signal.
Page, who came to Metro at a later date, said he has not yet learned what action, if any, was taken against these employes whose names turned up. A special Metro subcommittee is investigating the incidents, he said.
Gratuities from the General Railway Signal came to light in 1978 during an similar expense audit, Page said. Though occasional lunches or dinners with contractors are a part of doing business, Page said, patterns of free meals are not acceptable. Those shown to have accepted numerous gratuities from GRS received reprimands in 1978, Page said. Metro officials said the total value of the GRS gratuities was $3,957.
None of the Metro employes in the GRS matter was in a position to make decisions on contract talks, he said, though some may have helped prepare specifications and other negotiating details.
Metro officials said the documents indicate that General Railway Signal employes paid for meals at a wide range of restaurants, including Hogates, the Old Angus and Ruby restaurants. The contacts ranged from $6.25 for cocktails in one meeting to $250 for dinner and dancing for two Metro design officials.
Metro officials say that Bechtel now has about 350 people working for the transit system under a management contract. Many of them work in the field, overseeing execution of some 65 construction contracts worth a total of $500 million.
For amounts up to $25,000, the senior Bechtel engineer at each site has on-the-spot authority to approve contract changes--adjustments in a contractor's fee for such things as unusually hard soil or new fire equipment requirements. Adjustments of over $25,000 are settled in talks between the company and a staff of 19 Bechtel negotiators and then submitted to Metro for approval.
When Metro began building the subways in the late 1960s, it expected the job to take 10 years and decided to contract for construction management to avoid the expense of a large staff and its pensions and job security, Metro officials said. It is now in the process of easing Bechtel out of the negotiating position.
Metro officials said this decision was not related to the matters disclosed in the last week. Construction will extend at least into the 1990s and Metro feels it can economize and gain closer control by doing the job itself, officials said.