Controller Reports Jump in 9-1-1 Costs

Here's the press release:

Controller Finds City's 911 Contract Cost Doubled
Controller’s Dept. of Public Property audit finds $583,000 increase
for 911 services not originally bid

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released an audit of the Department of Public Property (DPP) that found the cost for the City’s 911-management contract doubled due to additional services that were not bid or in the original proposal.

The add-on services escalated the cost from $298,000 to $583,000. These services, provided by a consultant retained in 2006, did not appear in the city’s original bid request or the consultant’s proposal.

“The city bid on one package of services and ended up purchasing another costly set of services,” said Butkovitz. “It’s like bidding on a Saturn and then buying a Cadillac.”

According to Butkovitz, six months after the base contract was awarded, the contract cost had increased by one-third. Two years later the cost had nearly doubled, and significant portions of the cost were for tasks that were never bid. Among the tasks not bid was the audit of the 911 program’s finances.

“The City has a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure the efficient use of public funds,” said Butkovitz. “The rationale for the contract award was not documented, thus avoiding government transparency

Along with the additional contract costs, participation goals were disregarded for a minority-owned business (MBE) and woman-owned business (WBE). The prime contractor only involved the WBE in a couple of planning meetings, and the MBE withdrew from contract participation in August 2008 and was never replaced. The WBE was underpaid by 90 percent, and the MBE by 16 percent.

“This type of practice only discourages minority-owned businesses from doing business within the City,” said Butkovitz.

A 2007 report, Barriers Facing Minority, Women and Disabled-Owned Businesses in City Procurement and Contracting, released by Butkovitz found similar occurrences. “We previously found that many minority business owners felt that the Minority Business Enterprise Council (MBEC) and other City agencies were not effectively carrying out their mission to increase minority participation in city procurement and contracting.”

As a follow-up to the prior year’s findings on real estate records and list of assets and appraised values, it was found that DPP obtained a list of the City’s real estate holdings from the Records Department, but the listing did not include asset valuations.

A complete inventory of real estate holdings, including valuations, is required for financial reporting purposes. The DPP is charged with maintaining the City’s real estate inventory.

“We continue to recommend that management work toward obtaining a comprehensive inventory listing that includes asset valuations based on historical cost or appraisal value,” said Butkovitz.

To review the Department of Public Property Auditor’s Report FY 2007-06 audit as well as other reports issued by the Controller’s Office, please visit www.philadelphiacontroller.org

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