- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Hospital contract concerns go before D.C. Council
Mendelson’s ‘public rountable’ will discuss redo for hospital overhaul
The D.C. Council chairman will hold a hearing to look into concerns about the legitimacy of a contract award to overhaul a troubled city-owned hospital before a Feb. 19 vote on the deal.
Chairman Phil Mendelson on Wednesday confirmed that, in light of recent news reports, some of his colleagues raised questions about the contract award while they were at a breakfast meeting before Tuesday’s legislative session.
“I agreed to hold a public roundtable, in effect a hearing, and it will be open to the public,” Mr. Mendelson told The Washington Times, adding that a representative from the D.C. Office of Contracts and Procurements and the contracting officer’s technical representative will be asked to attend the 3 p.m. hearing Feb. 13.
The $12.7 million contract award to Chicago-based Huron Healthcare to “turn around” United Medical Center, the only hospital east of the Anacostia River, was challenged by competitors last week, The Times reported. And although they missed a 10-day deadline for filing a contract appeal, their claims that Huron was allowed to change subcontractors midstream after failing to include a certified local firm in its original proposal, among other irregularities, persuaded council member Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat, to announce his disapproval of the award and call for an investigation.
A spokesman for council member Anita Bonds, at-large Democrat, said Tuesday she likely would support the award, and on Wednesday council member Marion Barry, the Ward 8 Democrat in whose district the hospital is located, said that he too was satisfied with the award, which exceeds the original budget by $2.7 million.
“It’s not unusual for losing parties to cry foul,” Mr. Barry said, noting that the proper recourse is to file an appeal. But he said he also believes the council has a “100 percent responsibility” to ensure fairness and that he supports looking at all the facts.
‘I am alarmed’
Government accountability analysts have taken note of the hospital contract controversy.
Scott Amey, general counsel for the nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight, said the upcoming contract review is good news, “as the reported process appears to be at odds with D.C. procurement law and the contract’s requirements.”
“Additionally, I am alarmed that the winning bid exceeded the project’s budget,” he said. “The D.C. government is often a target of criticism, and it is deals like this that feed the public’s distrust in government. Let’s hope that the council can restore some of that trust.”
Yet in spite of the reputation Mr. Amey referred to and an announcement by Mayor Vincent C. Gray during Tuesday’s State of the District address of his intent to champion government procurement reform, most council members have been loath to answer questions about the fairness of the hospital contract award or the council’s role in approving contracts in general.
After a visit to all 13 council offices Tuesday and follow-up emails, The Times received less than a handful of replies. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, introduced legislation last year that would remove the council from the contract approval process, but his office did not respond to questions about that legislation or the hospital contract award.
A spokesman for council member David Grosso, at-large independent, said he had no comment on either question.
“Is it the council’s role to ferret out local contracting disputes?” asked one council staffer. “It sounds like a recipe for disaster. Who are we to second-guess the process? It should be examined, but is the council the place to do that?”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CURL: The modern GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. deploys 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland as exercise in response to Ukraine situation
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Six Senate seats could hinge on Keystone pipeline
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again