The D.C. government awarded a 90-day water and sewer billing contract this week to OAO Services Inc., a firm recently charged by the city's Minority Business Opportunity Commission with participating in the minority contracting program through "deceit" and false information.
Maudine R. Cooper, the commission's executive director, said the commission recommended that OAO receive the 90-day emergency contract despite the allegations so that the city's water and sewer billing would not be interrupted. OAO Services, whose contract to issue the bills expired last week, had been considered the leading contender for a new one-year contract until the commission's action Dec. 11.
Cooper said the three-month temporary contract gives the commission time to decide whether to revoke OAO's certification as a minority contractor and allows the D.C. Department of Administrative Services, the city's main contracting agency, to reconsider the other bidders for the new contract, which is valued at about $1 million.
The commission notified OAO Services that it plans to revoke the firm's certification as a minority contractor on the grounds that the company falsely indicated that its principal place of business was in the District. Under the rules of the minority contracting program, only firms headquartered in D.C. can be certified unless they qualify under strict waiver provisions.
Cecile D. Barker, chief executive officer of OAO Services, has denied the allegations. The firm has 10 days from the date of notification to request a hearing before the commission.
Janice Brown-Glasgow, a spokeswoman for the administrative services department, said yesterday she could not estimate the dollar amount of the 90-day contract. The contract, which was issued as an emergency procurement, was not designated as a sheltered-market award reserved for minority contractors.