Robert C. Bobb

Perhaps because the procurement laws and practices are particularly complex, it is not entirely surprising that the Auditor has made mistakes in her Report. For our part, I acknowledge again that given the nuances of the procurement process, the OCA [Office of the City Administrator] made several mistakes that have been addressed. It is incumbent upon the Auditor to similarly correct those findings and recommendations in her Report that are based on factual errors.

In particular, I dispute the need to transform the OCP [Office on Contracting and Procurement] into an independent agency. The Auditor does not mention that the OCP's enabling statute already provides that the Chief Procurement Officer is to serve a five-year term (deliberately non-coincidental with the Mayor's four-year term) and that the CPO [chief procurement officer] is removable only for cause. Moreover, the issues raised in the Report do not present a case of EOM [Executive Office of the Mayor] senior management's seeking to coerce or distort the judgment of contracting personnel or otherwise exercising inappropriate leverage over an agency subordinate to the Mayor. The Auditor's supposed "finding" of "inappropriate decision-making . . . in response to apparent pressure from upper management in the OCA" . . . is without any basis in fact cited in the Report or known to me to exist.

Of like significance is the Auditor's concluding "finding" that "there have been no discernible improvements in the integrity of the District's procurement and contracting operations" . . . . The Executive Branch, under the stewardship of Mayor Williams, has compiled an exemplary record of accomplishment in regulating the procurement of goods and services for the District government that is involved in over $1 [billion] in procurements and over 20,000 contracting actions annually.

Without doubt, there have been lapses in record keeping and adherence to protocols established in the procurement laws . . . . Beyond [certain] cases, the Administration has a good bill of health when it comes to procurement practices -- not perfect, by any means, but a lot better than the Auditor is willing to acknowledge.