Internal auditors at two city agencies have questioned costs associated with five contracts awarded since 1981 to firms controlled by John Clyburn, a close political friend of Mayor Marion Barry.
Auditors complained about overbilling on three contracts and questioned whether the work product justified the cost on two others, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The complaints involved contracts awarded by the Human Services and Employment Services departments to Decision Information Systems Corp. (DISC), formerly called Granville Corp., and Data Processing Institute of Washington, D.C. (DPI).
Clyburn's dealings with the city sparked a public controversy three weeks ago when a school board member complained that a major contract awarded to DISC for drug counseling in the schools had been "wired." The contract was eventually canceled.
A draft report of an internal evaluation conducted by the Department of Human Services found a $210,000 Granville report, highly praised by department Director David Rivers, was in part a duplication of previous reports.
Granville "was reimbursed in part to document deficiencies already noted by in-house review and anecdotal reports," the evaluators said. They added that Granville "failed to submit timely activity reports."
Rivers said yesterday he could not comment on the draft evaluation report because he had not seen it. But he repeated that Granville's report "was very useful to the department."
A September report by the monitoring unit of the Department of Employment Services questioned the bills paid under a 1985 contract for $188,000 with DPI.
The report said DPI had been receiving payment for eight employes' salaries under the job-training contract, though only five positions were authorized. It recommended that extra costs estimated at $4,600, approved by grant and contract managers, be refunded to the department.
The monitoring unit also questioned $15,882 in equipment rentals that DPI billed to Employment Services, noting that DPI was charging the department to rent some equipment from DISC, in which Clyburn is the majority stockholder.
In its response to the agency, DPI said that the invoicing for the three additional employes was "proper and in order" because they were part-time employes sharing the job of a fourth, full-time, employe. DPI also defended its billing for equipment, saying the internal unit's figures were inaccurate. DPI's letter also said DPI and DISC do not share financial interests.
Similar questions about costs arose over two contracts awarded to DPI during fiscal year 1982. An audit report for one contract found DPI was billing the department for the salaries of employes who were not authorized by the contract and for higher salaries than the department had approved. As a result, DPI dropped almost $19,000 in labor charges under the contract, according to a department memo.
Another audit report found DPI overcharged the city $10,462 in salary costs under a second job-training contract that year. A department memo two months later said DPI had agreed to "absorb all expenditures that are in question."
Contract records show that both DPI and Granville also had trouble meeting contract requirements to place trainees in jobs on contracts awarded between 1981 and 1984.
Asked why the Employment Services Department continued to do business with Clyburn's firms, Joan Bickers, executive assistant to Floyd S. Goff, the agency's acting director, said she was not in a position to comment. Clyburn said his firms won the contracts through competitive bidding.
In 1981, a $58,000 Granville contract to study the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program also provoked criticism from Employment Services' internal monitoring unit. Two months after the contract period had ended, Bickers, then head of the monitoring unit, wrote in a memo that Granville had not submitted a final report. Her memo said a preliminary report did not accomplish the goals of the contract.
The official who handles Freedom of Information requests for the department said that "as far as we know, we think all they sent in was the preliminary report." Clyburn said in an interview, however, that he was certain his firm submitted a final report.