D.C. Auditor Otis Troupe criticized Mayor Marion Barry's administration yesterday for retaining four former city officials as paid consultants to do work that Troupe said could easily have been done by city workers.
In a report issued by his office, Troupe said the District had failed to justify the awarding of noncompetitive contracts totaling $174,700 to James A. Buford, former head of the Department of Human Services; Robert L. Moore, former housing director; William H. Rumsey, former recreation director, and Sterling Tucker, former chairman of the City Council.
"We believe all of the negotiated services contracts in question could have and should have been carried out by staff in the respective agencies," the report concluded.
The report added: "Notwithstanding the fact that the subject contracts may have been technically in compliance with city regulations . . . we believe District officials were remiss in not showing proper sensitivity to the practice of awarding contracts to former officials."
The auditor's report also questioned three revisions to a sludge-hauling contract awarded to Faith Construction Co., a firm headed by former city official Carroll Harvey, which increased the contract's value by 52 percent, from $1.24 million to $1.88 million. The contract was among those set aside by the city for minority-controlled firms and was awarded on the basis of competitive bidding.
While the city provided justifications for the three change orders, the report said, "The net effect . . . was Faith Construction Co. receiving a contract considerably above that originally planned and at the expense of other minority contractors who might have been able to provide some of the services contracted for at a cheaper price."
City Administrator Thomas Downs, in a written response to the report, conceded the District must be careful in awarding contracts to former city officials, but noted that in many cases they provide a "unique expertise and perspective."
"In three of our departments, the former administrators offered a unique capacity to provide a comprehensive view of complex issues which affected not only government policies and service delivery but also private sector initiatives and linkages with various constituencies and networks," he said.
As for the changes in the Faith Construction Co. contract, Downs said, they "reflect conditions that were not planned or known to the contracting officer prior to soliciting bids."
Harvey, who is chairman of Faith Construction, resigned as director of the old D.C. Department of General Services in November 1981.
City Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, said he agreed with Troupe that the paid consultants "are totally unnecessary if you have a well-run agency."
Wilson said he will ask his council colleagues to consider the findings of the audit in reviewing the mayor's fiscal 1986 budget proposal early next year. Wilson said he has complained for years that the mayor has too much discretion in spending city funds for goods and services not specifically authorized in the budget.
"I have felt for some time that when you have huge sums of money in the budget, with no detail as to how it's spent, that it leads to the misuse of monies," Wilson said.
Troupe began his study about a year ago, after published reports about a growing number of former D.C. officials receiving lucrative consulting contracts with the city.
Buford resigned as director of the Department of Human Services in May 1983 and opened a private consulting firm that negotiated contracts with the city totaling $103,245.
Under the contracts, which ran from June 1983 through February, Buford provided the city with a wide range of advice on finances and management within the human services department and strategy for moving patients from institutions to community-based group homes.
"In the opinion of the Auditor most of the submitted work products reflect information that we believe is readily available within the management and information entities of DHS," Troupe's report stated.
Moore, who resigned in November 1982 after nearly four years as the city's housing chief, was awarded a $38,900 contract to help the District sell several parcels of urban renewal land and to prepare a financial analysis of the city's troubled Bates Street housing redevelopment project. Moore eventually collected only $19,842 on the contract, which expired in June 1983.
Tucker, the former council chairman and president of Sterling Tucker Associates, received a $45,000 contract last February to inform the business community about the city's water conservation program and to build support for planned increases in water rates.
Rumsey, who retired from city government in October 1983, received a $6,616 contract to complete a youth services directory for the city.
Moore, reached late yesterday, declined to comment on the audit. Buford was out of town on business and could not be reached. Tucker and Rumsey also could not be reached for comment.