Three members of Congress called yesterday for tighter controls over District of Columbia contracts with consultants in response to reports that the city's public health commissioner had hired an old college friend who lives in Minnesota but was paid $245 a day as a full-time consultant.
"Is there adequate supervision? Obviously, there is not," said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), ranking minority member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District, in response to yesterday's report in The Washington Post.
"When we see this kind of neglect, we ought to close that loophole in a hurry. There is no room for that kind of misuse of funds," Lautenberg said. He added, however, that he wants to see the city's response before proposing solutions.
The Post reported on Tuesday that D.C. Public Health Commissioner Dr. Andrew D. McBride hired his friend, Charles E. Dickerson, as a full-time consultant on a noncompetitive basis and that the city paid him $38,788 over seven months although Dickerson maintained his full-time job at Carleton College in Minnesota at the same time.
McBride said earlier that he had relied on Dickerson for an outside perspective and that the city got its money's worth from the advice Dickerson gave him. McBride declined to comment further yesterday.
Sen. Mack Mattingly (R-Ga.), who last year succeeded in adding an amendment to the District's fiscal 1985 appropriations bill that cut $3.5 million out of $25.3 million the city had budgeted for consultant contracts, said yesterday that the Dickerson contract shows why the reduction was warranted.
"If this is an example of how they spend taxpayers' money on consultants, my amendment should have cut a lot more than 10 percent out of that portion of the appropriations bill," Mattingly said in a statement. "We could have bought the District of Columbia government the Collected Works of Confucius and Yogi Berra for a lot less than $38,000."
Mattingly was referring to a 35-page supplemental report that Dickerson submitted to McBride in August in response to The Post's inquiries about the contract, which had ended in April. Dickerson, who has a PhD in history, quoted liberally from philosophers, historians and former baseball player Berra and said that in advising McBride on bureaucratic reform "there was major consideration of the tenets of Confucianism."
"The point of this story was the seemingly indifferent way the money was spent," said Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), who this year sponsored an amendment to the District's appropriations bill requiring that all contracts be bid competitively. "That the Dickerson contract is a classic example of the kinds of concerns that we have and that prompted the amendment to begin with."
Meanwhile, D.C. City Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), introduced a bill yesterday that would require that the mayor's annual budget proposal include a breakdown of the amount each agency, department or board plans to spend on consultant contracts.