Dwight S. Cropp, former executive secretary of the District government, gave job contracts to a longtime associate of one top University of the District of Columbia official and a relative of another shortly before Cropp was appointed university vice president.
D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe currently is reviewing contracts let by Cropp, including the hiring of Alma A. Brown, wife of UDC board chairman Ronald H. Brown, for a temporary $43,410-a-year job in the Secretary of the District of Columbia's office in February 1984, according to city government sources.
Cropp, who was then working half-time as secretary and half-time as an assistant to UDC President Robert L. Green, confirmed yesterday that he hired Brown primarily to serve as a liaison to the deputy mayor for economic development's office to help plan Mayor Marion Barry's trip to China and other overseas visits by city officials.
Green named Cropp vice president for university relations, a newly created position that required board approval, the same month that Alma Brown joined his staff in the secretary's office.
Several months earlier, Cropp hired Cassandra A. Simmons, a longtime associate of Green's in Michigan, and paid her $10,000 in consulting fees to provide technical assistance for the District's international sister cities program.
Cropp and Ronald Brown said yesterday there was nothing improper about the hiring of Alma Brown and Simmons, and Ronald Brown stressed that UDC funds were not used to employ his wife.
Cropp said that there was no relationship between his decision to hire the two women and his appointment as a UDC vice president.
"There is no connection between the two," Cropp said. " . . . I suppose if I had hired Alma Brown as a consultant and remained as secretary, it wouldn't be news."
Cropp said that his appointment was part of a larger reorganization of the UDC administration that had been worked out in the preceding months.
"I stand on my qualifications, my educational background and my experience in government," Cropp said.
Ronald Brown said that his wife was hired by Deputy Mayor Curtis McClinton, not Cropp, and that it was only "incidental" that his wife was carried on the secretary's payroll.
"This was not a Dwight Cropp decision," Brown said.
Brown said McClinton interviewed his wife and that Alma Brown "went through normal personnel channels."
Cropp said yesterday that McClinton liked Alma Brown after interviewing her and wanted to hire her but didn't have room on his payroll, so Cropp hired her in the secretary's office and assigned her to work with McClinton's office. "I hired her," Cropp said.
In an interview earlier this week, Cropp said that he had known Brown for many years and felt she could perform well in the job she was given.
"I remember her resume was quite extensive," Cropp said. "She had extensive experience in management and administration. I knew her and knew she could function in certain situations involving protocol and ceremonial aspects of Barry's trips ."
Cropp said that Simmons, a faculty member at Michigan State University, where Green was a dean prior to assuming the UDC presidency, came to him "highly recommended."
Simmons has received $47,200 in consulting fees from various District agencies since Green became UDC president in September 1983, according to city government officials and documents obtained by The Washington Post under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act.
In a memo sent to city officials last week, Troupe raised questions about the source of funds used to pay Alma Brown's salary, according to a university official. Ronald Brown and other UDC and city officials have said Alma Brown was paid solely with appropriated District funds and that confusion over her position resulted because of coding errors and incorrect notations on two of her personnel forms.
A personnel document signed by two top city officials that extends Alma Brown's contract through fiscal 1985 includes a handwritten notation stating that her position "is to be funded by intradistrict funds transferred to the Secretariat by the University of the District of Columbia."
The form was signed last August by City Administrator Thomas Downs and Rob Robinson, chief administrative officer for the D.C. Department of Personnel, who also was designated to sign for Clifton B. Smith, who replaced Cropp as secretary of the District of Columbia.
The notation on D.C. personnel form 52B, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, says that "the incumbent is currently performing an assessment of training programs that may be developed for District government agencies utilizing professional staff and curricular models currently in place at the university."
Robinson said Monday that he wrote the 62-word notation on a blank form that was supposed to be for another employe.
In the rush of processing dozens of forms like it, Robinson said, a clerk filled in Alma Brown's name by mistake.
Robinson said city officials were considering having UDC transfer money to cover funding for the position at the time he wrote the notation that appears on Alma Brown's personnel form, but that they eventually decided not to pursue the plan.
Alma Brown's Form 52, a personnel document related to her employment, which The Post has examined, also has a coding error that Robinson said occurred when an assistant read his handwritten notation on Alma Brown's 52B and, as a result, miscoded the account to be used to pay Alma Brown's salary.
He said the secretary mistakenly marked in "UDCC" -- a code referring to a special account in the secretary's office comprising funds transferred from UDC to the city agency in fiscal 1984.
The form should have said "SECT," Robinson said, the code that would show that Alma Brown was being paid out of appropriated funds from the secretary's office in fiscal 1985.
Robinson said that another code on the 52 form lists "appropriations" as the source of funding for Alma Brown's salary.
"There was a lot of chaos because we had any number of appointments . . . and quite frankly we were trying to get the forms that we had put through approved and get people on board," Robinson said.
"The intention on the initial appointments action was to put her on the payroll against appropriated funding," Robinson said.
UDC officials have said numerous times during the past two months that the university never transferred any money to that secretary's office during fiscal 1985, the year in question on Brown's personnel forms.
"My wife has never gotten one penny of UDC money for salary, consultant fees or any contracts," Ronald Brown said earlier this week. "The fact is she has been paid and she has been paid with appropriated funds of the District of Columbia government."
Ronald Brown, who as UDC board chairman has been a leading defender of Green, said that too much was being made of the fact that his wife is working for the city.
He suggested that some of Green's critics are trying to also discredit him because "I'm trying to give Bob Green a fair shake."
"It looks like a deliberate attempt to embarrass me," Ronald Brown said, referring to circulation of copies of Alma Brown's 52B form to the news media.
Troupe has declined to comment on matters under review by his office. The Post has found no evidence that UDC funds were used to pay for Alma Brown's salary.
Cropp confirmed this week that UDC transferred $125,000 to the secretary's office in fiscal 1984, which he said was used to cover the costs of salaries for him and several other employes who were working half-time for UDC.
In addition, Cropp said, UDC sent funds to the District to pay for equipment and furniture that was moved from his city office to UDC on Connecticut Avenue NW.
The transfer of UDC funds in fiscal 1984 may have given a misleading impression that Alma Brown's salary was being paid from university sources, Cropp said.
Cropp became executive secretary to the mayor in January 1979, when Barry first took office, and became D.C. secretary in January 1983. In September 1983, he came to UDC part-time as an assistant to Green.