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D.C. Lottery partner has chancy background
Government clients VSC listed ‘haven’t heard of them’
Question of the Day
The majority partner of the company running the D.C. Lottery had boasted on its corporate website of general contracting experience from federal jobs it did not perform for government clients who had never heard of it, according to a review by The Washington Times.
The claims, which make up virtually the entire construction-services profile posted on the website of Veterans Services Corp. (VSC), raise questions about the background and capability of the firm, which has a 51 percent interest in a joint venture with international gaming giant Intralot.
“Never heard of ‘em,” said Bob Humphreys, a project manager for the National Park Service (NPS), when asked about VSC, which listed him as the point of contact for a $13.5 million mechanical contract.
“No, I haven’t heard of them,” said Tim Grau, operations manager for Emcor Group Inc., general contractor for the General Services Administration (GSA), on the excavation of a steam tunnel at the U.S. Treasury Building, which also was listed among VSC’s general-contracting projects.
Bill Line, an NPS spokesman, also said he had not heard of VSC, which listed as another of its prior contracts an irrigation project on the north and south grounds of the White House in excess of $2 million.
In all, the construction-services profile on VSC’s website listed 16 prior general contracting or landscaping and irrigation projects at major government facilities or sites, including the FBI headquarters and the Ellipse. A dozen of those projects were completed before the company was formed in June 2009, according to the profile. Much of the work was done by different firms for which VSC executives also serve in an executive capacity.
Little information about VSC is on file with the D.C. Council or the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, which oversees the contract — despite a previous round of bidding during which Intralot’s first lottery partner was heavily scrutinized.
The council voted 9-1 in December to approve the $38 million award that paved the way for Intralot’s joint venture with VSC, a local company formed in June 2009 by businessman Emmanuel S. Bailey. Mr. Bailey is the chief executive officer of that joint venture, DC09 LLC.
Mr. Bailey declined to answer written questions submitted to his attorney or to comment for this article.
VSC’s capability statement, filed Aug. 7 with the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, described the company as specialists in “strategic planning, financial and accounting, and business management services” to “for-profit and non-profit clients.”
That statement does not identify any clients.
The construction-services profile on the VSC website was a more in-depth document that detailed16 “representative past projects.” The profile said VSC has won millions of dollars’ worth of contract awards or task orders from federal agencies and offices.
But USAspending.gov, a government website that allows the public to track federal contract awards, has no projects listed for VSC.
An NPS project to replace the main gate at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, among several others listed on VSC’s profile, was completed by a Maryland company called Marco Enterprises Inc., according to Ron Bailey, branch chief for the NPS in Denver, who said he had never heard of VSC.
Marco Enterprises President Donna P. Seaton-Fagon was incensed when she received a call from a reporter inquiring about the matter.
“I’m a small business trying to make ends meet,” she said. “I don’t know Emmanuel Bailey or Veterans Service Corp., and I have no knowledge of how the information got there or who put it there. None. Nada.”
Russell Wodiska, who did not return a call for comment, also is the president of a company called Capitol Structures Management Inc. (CSMI) in Falls Church, Va., a consulting firm that lists Mr. Bailey as a senior vice president.
Among CSMI’s clients is a company called Sympora Construction, which also lists Mr. Bailey as chief operating officer. A review of Sympora’s construction-services profile, posted on CSMI’s website, shows 19 “representative past projects” in a similar format as VSC’s profile and includes 10 projects also listed on VSC’s profile — two of which were completed by Marco Enterprises, according to NPS officials.
A common denominator among Mr. Bailey’s various firms is that they work in an arena regulated by the federal government for the benefit of disadvantaged companies seeking to get ahead.
CSMI’s mission statement says it specializes in business development for “minority and service-disabled veteran-owned firms” seeking federal government contracts under the federal Small Business Act. Congress created a program under Section 8(a) of the act so the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) could help small companies owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged people develop their businesses.
Like Sympora, VSC’s profile says it is a “SBA 8(a) certified” company. A document VSC filed with the District’s small-business-development department states that the company is a “certified minority, service-disabled-veteran-owned management firm.” Mr. Bailey is black.
However, SBA spokeswoman Cecelia M. Taylor said “Veterans Services Corp. is not an 8(a) approved company.”
Both VSC’s and Sympora’s profiles say that some of the certifications and past projects were representative of “key personnel” Scott Skiles and Tom Harrington. But Mr. Skiles told The Times that neither of the men was ever employed by either company — though he acknowledged subcontracting for both Marco and Sympora.
“They are all totally different companies, but they know the same subcontractors,” Mr. Skiles said. “CSMI puts companies in touch with contracts they normally wouldn’t be exposed to.”
Asked what his role in the arrangement is, Mr. Skiles replied: “We actually do the work. We dig holes and fix stuff.”
Said Mr. Harrington, “If somebody wants to market us, I say fine, go for it, as long as the work is coming our way.”
Mr. Harrington added that he has never heard of VSC.
Shortly after The Times discovered the construction-services profile on the VSC website on June 10 and began calling federal agencies to inquire about the projects, the profile disappeared from its website.
In its place, a statement first observed two weeks later, on June, 24 read: “Please be advised that the prior [profile] for VSC was mistakenly combined with the past performance of a different firm associated with one of the principals of VSC.”
Yet a comparison of the Sympora and VSC profiles shows 10 of the same projects listed in a different order, with the company name appearing at the top of each page of the respective statements.
The recent notice posted on VSC’s website advised viewers to “Stay tuned for the revised [profile] soon.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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