During Robert L. Green's tenure as president of the University of the District of Columbia, the university awarded contracts to three firms with political ties to enhance Green's standing within the city's power structure, according to UDC and city government sources.
Two of the firms, JAM Corporation and Urban Strategies Inc., were awarded contracts without bids during the last year, university sources said. JAM, a public relations company, employs Mayor Marion Barry's wife, Effi, as a vice president. Urban Strategies Inc., a consulting firm, is headed by Woodrow Boggs Jr., a close associate of D.C. City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4).
Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that a third firm, Alexander Grant & Co., a major accounting firm, also was chosen among several companies competing for a $60,000 contract from UDC last February to plan an accounting system for the university. Former City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers, one of Barry's close friends and advisers, is now a partner with Alexander Grant.
Although the contracts were not let directly from Green's office, several top UDC officials said Green urged other university officials to award contracts with these firms because he viewed them as having important political links to the city government.
"He was trying to make sure he was politically wired so that if anything happened he was okay," said one UDC administrator who was critical of Green.
Green could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Ties between the District government and UDC became an issue during the final months of Green's presidency after disclosures in The Post that Green had ordered UDC to transfer some of its money to other District agencies to pay consulting fees to a longtime associate from Michigan, Cassandra A. Simmons.
In addition, former D.C. secretary Dwight S. Cropp, who was working half-time for UDC when Green became president in 1983, hired Green's niece and board chairman Ronald H. Brown's wife to positions in the District building. Cropp, who later became a UDC vice president, also awarded a $10,000 consulting contract to Simmons from the secretary's office in late 1983.
UDC officials said that Cropp awarded the noncompetitive contracts to JAM and to Urban Strategies. Cropp was on leave yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Green resigned as UDC president last week after disclosures by D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe and the news media that Green had misspent thousands of dollars of university funds on travel, consultants and personal items. The status of Green's appointees, including Cropp, remains unclear.
University officials earlier this month terminated the contract that Cropp let with Boggs, the chief executive officer of Urban Strategies, because Boggs had not done any work for UDC, according to university sources. Boggs received $2,000 of a $20,000 noncompetitive consulting contract last March and was supposed to conduct seminars in each of the city's eight wards on unemployment among women and youth, according to UDC officials. By Aug. 15 Boggs "had not performed" at all, a UDC official said, and the university asked that he repay the $2,000 advance.
The contract was due to expire at the end of September. Boggs has not repaid the money, university sources said. He could not be reached yesterday.
Thornell Page, director of the cooperative extension service at UDC, said he was asked by UDC to coordinate the seminars and he met with Boggs several times to plan the project.
"A number of months passed and he had not conducted any seminars," Page said. "We did some planning and he agreed on what he would do, but he just never did it. Something else came up. The end result was he never did the work."
When the contract was awarded, the university justified giving it to Boggs without competitive bidding because Urban Strategies is a minority-owned firm, the sources said. District law requires that over a third of all city contracts be awarded to minority firms.
Boggs was a campaign manager for council member Jarvis, who, according to records obtained by The Post, received a $250 campaign contribution from Green last year that was paid out of university funds. Records also show that Green contributed $100 in university funds to the campaign of City Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7).
Three university officials who declined to be named confirmed that UDC had hired JAM without competitive bidding to organize a community festival at the upper Connecticut Avenue campus last fall and that the firm was paid between $12,000 and $15,000 in fees.
JAM President Jeanne Clarke Harris later suggested to UDC officials that the firm be put on a retainer for roughly $3,000 per month -- a proposal that the university rejected, according to UDC officials. However, JAM was hired to help UDC advertise its reaccreditation in July and the firm produced a series of advertisements entitled "Access to Excellence" that ran in The Post and several other local newspapers over the summer. The university received a bill for $15,000 for JAM's work on the advertisements, sources said.
Clark said yesterday that she had not received her payment yet from UDC and that JAM is one of several advertising firms "that do piece-meal work" for the university. She said that when she first founded JAM she wanted to volunteer her services to an institution but that UDC already had "some very heavy ad people in there."
"I have routinely gone there and pitched my services," she said.
UDC awarded the contract to Alexander Grant & Co. after Green hired two consultants in 1984 who also were supposed to plan an accounting system for the university. UDC Provost Maxie C. Jackson and Budget Director W. Louis Stone, both former colleagues of Green at Michigan State University, were paid more than $28,000 in consulting fees for their work before Green recruited them to jobs at UDC. Green was a dean at Michigan State prior to assuming the UDC presidency in September 1983.
Elijah Rogers said yesterday that he was not aware of the UDC contract with his firm.
"I do not have anything to do with contracts that Alexander Grant has with the city government," Rogers said.
Richard Willett, a partner from Alexander Grant who signed the contract with UDC, said his firm was the lowest bidder for the contract, which expires in September.