- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A report shows pervasive problems in how the D.C. government spends money, including a failure to follow rules and punish those who violate them.

The study, released earlier this month by a task force of city employees and outside analysts, found a culture in which neglect is “pervasive in both major and minor ways.”

It said rules for making purchases are “regularly ignored” and that violations are not taken seriously.

The task force was set up after press reports revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent without contracts or through no-bid deals.

The city faces even more scrutiny.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, has asked for a review from the Government Accountability Office. Mr. Davis will be the ranking Republican on the committee when the 110th Congress convenes in January.

The task force report found fault with the decision by outgoing Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat, to not appoint a chief procurement officer during the past two years. The D.C. inspector general also is completing a review of city contracting.

From September 2004 until he left the government last month, Deputy Mayor Herbert R. Tillery ran the contract office, though he did not have the experience required by statute. During his leadership, the amount of purchases spent without proper contracts soared, the report said.

Without a full-time, permanent and qualified chief procurement officer, the office was less effective and what emerged was an “unfortunate appearance that compliance with procurement policy is not a high priority,” the report said.

Vincent Morris, a spokesman for the mayor, said the city’s contracting is “miles better” than it was before Mr. Williams took office.

Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty’s office said Mr. Fenty, a Democrat, will make improvements to a contracting office that has not been adequate.

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