Former D.C. City Council chairman Sterling Tucker has been given a new, noncompetitive $24,500 contract to advise lottery officials on marketing and training, bringing to nearly $100,000 the amount of consulting contracts Tucker has received from city agencies in the last year.
D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe, who said last year that a $45,000 contract Tucker received from the City Public Works Department was unnecessary and could have been performed by city workers, issued a report yesterday questioning two previous lottery consulting contracts Tucker received last year. Both previous lottery contracts were given to Tucker without competition.
Matthew Watson, a lawyer who represents Tucker, and Douglass Gordon, the lottery's executive director, said yesterday that Troupe's conclusions were not supported by the facts.
"Sterling performed the services," said Watson, who preceded Troupe as D.C. auditor. "The lottery board says Sterling performed the services. No one has questioned that other than the auditor. To draw . . . the negative conclusion . . . is totally improper."
Troupe's report yesterday said a $2,500 contract Tucker received last January to conduct a weekend retreat for lottery board members could have been performed by lottery staff. And Troupe said that the work Tucker did for the lottery under a $24,500, six-month contract he got last March was not documented adequately.
That contract was to provide marketing assistance and general advice to the board on the operation of the city's legalized gambling operations.
Troupe's report said that documentation submitted by the lottery board and Tucker for that contract "is largely a list of alleged activities and discussions without any written work products to support the claim that the services were performed."
The lack of adequate documentation "raises the distinct possibility that this contract was not let for the benefit of the taxpayers or their lottery agency, but rather for the enrichment of a privileged political insider who was awarded the contract on a noncompetitive sole-source basis and who produced no work product of any signifance," Troupe's report said.
"I totally reject that conclusion," said Gordon, who added that Tucker submitted written invoices before he was paid.
Gordon also said that Tucker's contract with the board did not require him to prepare written reports and that much of his advice was made orally.
Troupe, who has previously criticized the lottery board for not monitoring its outside contracts adequately, said the board's failure to require Tucker to submit written reports again demonstrates that contracts are poorly supervised.
Watson said Tucker should not be faulted for not providing written reports because he was not required to do so by the board.
Watson said there is "absolutely no evidence" to support Troupe's suggestion that the contracts might be due to Tucker's political connections. He said Tucker has been out of D.C. government for six years and "none of these people at the lottery were involved politically with Sterling."
In an interview Thursday before Troupe's report was released, Tucker, who is the president of Sterling Tucker and Associates, a consulting firm, said: "Somebody in the public may get the impression that I am feasting off the city. I am not. I give full service and more."
Gordon signed the most recent contract with Tucker on Jan. 2 after Troupe showed him a draft of the report he released yesterday on the previous contracts.
"Mr. Tucker met the conditions of his contract. I am very satisfied with his work," said Gordon.
The latest contract, which is also for six months, requires Tucker to hold six 2-hour management training seminars, and to advise the board on marketing, advertising and public relations.
Troupe and some City Council members have criticized the lottery board previously, saying it hires too many consultants, uses them to do work that should be performed by employes, and awards consulting contracts without competitive bids.
In yesterday's report, Troupe again criticized the board for not seeking competitive bids and said that in the case of the retreat contract the board failed to demonstrate that Tucker "was the only person in the city capable of" conducting it.
Gordon said the board's performance over the last year demonstrates that Tucker was the right person to conduct the retreat.
Gordon, who has authority to award contracts up to $25,000 without board approval, said the lottery is justified in awarding the contracts to Tucker without competitive bidding because, as a former council chairman and former executive director of the Washington Urban League, Tucker has "unique qualifications and experience."
Gordon added that the board has concurred each time he has retained Tucker.