The DC Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) was touted during the Fenty Administration for doing great things with school modernization. Because of his track record of success, the director of the office, Allan Lew, has become the City Administrator in the Gray Administration, and because the agency was touted as so well functioning, according to the Washington City Paper
, in "DC to get its own GSA
," the OPFEM is going to be merged into the Department of Real Estate Services, creating a super-agency called the Department of General Services, comparable to the the federal government's General Services Administration, which constructs and manages building (but also does other contracting and procurement which the DC DGS won't do.)
OPEFM was recently audited by the DC Government Auditor: Letter Report: Auditor’s Review of the Operations and Administration of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization
Compare the bland language of the Executive Summary and recommendations with these passages from the body of the report. And the auditor only SAMPLED files and projects.
The Auditor found that OPEFM did not establish a school-and project-specific record keeping system to account for all expenditures for school facility capital improvements, maintenance, repairs, and operating costs. Instead, OPEFM established an opaque, cumbersome contract file system based on contractor names. Additionally, OPEFM did not maintain a database of contractors that cross referenced each contractor to a specific school and project. It appears that OPEFM deliberately set up their record keeping system to obstruct transparency of and accountability for its use of capital funds on DCPS facility construction and modernization projects.
OPEFM contracted with the law firm of Leftwich and Ludaway, (herein after referred to as Land L) to provide procurement services. A partner at L and L served as OPEFM's Procurement Manager/Consultant. As OPEFM's Procurement Manager/Consultant, this individual drafted change orders for review and approval by the OPEFM Executive Director. 14 In FY 2008 and FY 2009, OPEFM issued a total of $ I5 million in change orders to Turner Construction Company (Turner) for work it performed on school modernization and stabilization projects. According to disclosure forms submitted with Turner's proposals, the L and L partner was the son-in-law of Turner's Project Executive assigned to OPEFM stabilization and modernization projects.
OPEFM completed the modernization of Wheatley in August 2009, at a cost of $23.8 million. It is troublesome to find that less than a year after the completion of modernization of Wheatley, bathroom stalls were missing doors because the doors were not durable and did not meet OPEFM's draft DG standards. The absence of bathroom doors at Wheatley is particularly significant because the lack of doors in DCPS bathrooms has been used repeatedly to illustrate the poor condition of DCPS' s educational facilities. Consider the fact that in a 2003 report, the American Society of Civil Engineers state: "Conditions at scores of D.C. public schools are simply deplorable. Some schools have gaping holes in the floors and walls, poles on playgrounds and missing doors on bathroom facilities 50."
Labels: government oversight, public finance and spending