To provide readers with primary source information on issues affecting their lives, from time to time District Extra will publish excerpts of remarks, written statements, reports and other documents. Below are passages from two documents related to the District auditor's examination of procurement practices in the Office of City Administrator Robert C. Bobb. The two documents are excerpts from a June 3 report by auditor Deborah K. Nichols and from Bobb's response, given in his June 27 testimony to the D.C. Council's Committee on Government Operations.
Deborah K. Nichols
The Auditor's review of sole source agreements issued to four individuals by the Executive Office of the Mayor and Office of the City Administrator revealed a failure to follow sound procurement policies and procedures and to comply with the spirit, intent, and letter of the Procurement Practices Act of 1985, as amended, and procurement regulations. Moreover, public officials entrusted with responsibilities to ensure that public funds are used efficiently, effectively, economically, and in a way that complies with applicable laws and regulations did not adequately discharge these critical obligations. The transactions examined in this report reflected management behaviors that did not conform to the high ethical and professional standards expected of government officials and employees in the performance of their official duties. The District's procurement regulations state: "The procurement business of the District shall be conducted in a manner above reproach and, except as authorized by law, with complete impartiality and with preferential treatment for none."
The City Administrator's action of identifying friends and associates, principally from Oakland, California, for non-competitive, sole source "deals" with the District government resulted in transactions that were not: above reproach, "arms length," completely impartial, and free from the appearance of preferential treatment. . . . These transactions, or business opportunities, were not publicly disclosed or subjected to a credible competitive procurement process. . . .
The Auditor found a lack of employees within the OCA [Office of the City Administrator] and EOM [Executive Office of the Mayor] with critical skill sets and professional acumen necessary to guide, support, and aid officials and managers in both offices in complying with applicable rules, regulations and laws pertaining to finance and procurement. Inexperience and lack of knowledge has played a significant role in giving rise to these and other deviations from applicable laws, rules, regulations, and standards of public stewardship within the executive branch. The poor example set by this shortcoming is conveyed to and is evident within many other agencies and offices of the District government. The transactions reviewed by the Auditor for this report were indicative of management pressures and lapses that resulted in inadequate separation of duties, irregular procurement and financial transactions, inadequate management oversight, decision-making lacking transparency, and a lack of honest, straightforward and complete disclosure of public information . . . .
It is evident that the EOM has not learned any lessons from past procurement debacles involving the misuse and mismanagement of purchase cards, poor oversight, and lack of accountability for District owned and leased real estate, real estate purchase, mismanagement of the procurement of services for renovation projects and their costs while under the supervision and control of the Office of Property Management, and the longstanding mismanagement of the District's procurement and contracting function and responsibilities. This and other examinations have repeatedly revealed that there have been no discernible improvements in the integrity of the District's procurement and contracting operations.