A key D.C. Council member said Wednesday he will introduce a disapproval resolution related to a questionable $12.7 million contract to overhaul city-owned United Medical Center.
D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange, chairman of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, said he hopes to see the contract for the Southeast D.C. hospital — and the city’s local contracting procedures — investigated to root out what he said could be possible fraud and abuse.
The comments stem from a contract recently awarded to Chicago-based Huron Healthcare and its local partner, Compass Solutions. The contract, to prepare the hospital for an eventual sale, is pending council approval but has been the subject of concern from numerous parties involved with the competitive bidding process, which began in September.
The Washington Times, citing emails, city records and interviews with other bidders, reported Wednesday that city contracts chief James Staton and healthcare finance Director Wayne Turnage had been notified repeatedly that Huron submitted a proposal with a subcontractor that was not certified as a local minority firm, as is required by D.C. law.
Later, the emails and interviews showed, after the Office of Contracts and Procurement delayed the review process and ordered an unusual second round of “best and final” offers, Huron dropped the non-certified local firm and added one that was certified.
D.C. law states that any local minority subcontractor “has to be certified at the time of the submission of the proposal or be considered non-responsive.”
Council member Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat whose constituents are served by United Medical Center, plans to cosponsor the disapproval resolution.
Mr. Orange also noted that Huron’s substitute local subcontractor, Compass Solutions, is well known to the same officials handling the United Medical Center contract. The company has been awarded a sole source contract just under $1 million, the threshold above which council approval for a contract is required. City records show that Mr. Staton, Mr. Turnage and Olinda Fuller, the contracting officer overseeing the United Medical Center contract process, approved that sole-source contract awarded to Compass.
Compass officials said Wednesday that they directed the firm’s corporate counsel to handle press inquiries, but no lawyers contacted The Times in response to questions.
Huron officials did not return numerous calls and emails seeking comment.
Mr. Orange pointed out that a recently passed law that would remove waivers of minority contracting requirements from Mr. Staton’s purview and place them with the director of small and local businesses awaits Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s signature.
“The business community is seeking to veto that law but this [UMC contract] is why such legislation is needed,” the council member said. The Office of Contracts and Procurement “has missed the mark here, and I’m concerned about fraud and abuse in the [local contracting] arena. I urge the mayor to act on this new legislation.”
The mayor's office did not respond to calls for comment.View Entire Story
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Jeffrey Anderson is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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