- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2000

A Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) official who resigned amid questions about a series of bungled contracts has landed another top administrative position and salary in a different state agency.

William Lindsey was VDOT's division administrator for administrative services when he approved parts of computer contracts worth $54 million with the Woodside Summit Group. The California firm was later fired by the state after officials uncovered ongoing problems with their products and services, and questions arose about irregularities in the contracts. The contracts are now being investigated by state police.

The canceled contracts cost VDOT $11 million, auditors said.

At VDOT, Mr. Lindsey who is a classified employee and not a political appointee was earning $70,889 annually before he submitted his resignation, which is effective Oct. 6.

Mr. Lindsey has since accepted a $64,000 position supervising revenue-generating activities in the Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) State Parks Division. He is scheduled to start his new job Oct. 10.

VDOT wound up paying $46 million to the California company before the contracts were canceled after an internal audit showed "significant problems with project's procurement, contract administration, invoice billing and payments."

The state agency said at the time of the audit that it believed it received about $35 million in value from the contracts.

Lila White, Republican Gov. James S. Gilmore III's spokeswomen, said no one knew of Mr. Lindsey's move.

"This was a classified employee who apparently sought other employment," Mrs. White said, noting the hire was not a quid pro quo. "He sought the job and did not get shifted."

Mrs. White said VDOT Commissioner Charles D. "Chip" Nottingham and Mr. Gilmore are trying to "fix the problems" at the transportation agency and that this latest situation doesn't affect those efforts. Yet, this latest departure of a VDOT official can only add to the problems the agency has had over the last year.

Mr. Lindsey's role in the contract problems stem from his approval of five change orders for more than $7 million. The internal audit noted those change orders amounted to 33 percent of the amount originally budgeted.

Those authorizations could be a violation of state law, the audit stated, as only the governor can give the go-ahead to changes in contracts changed by 25 percent of the original amount.

Gary Waugh Jr., a spokesman with the DCR, said the position Mr. Lindsey will hold is third in line from the state parks' director.

"This person would be directly involved with working with the budget," Mr. Waugh said, adding the position is considered high ranking and carries the responsibility of overseeing roughly 35 other employees, including five managers.

"It's a good position and it can be used as a steppingstone," he said.

The state parks division employs 200 full-time employees and operates 34 parks on a $16 million budget.

Mr. Nottingham, the VDOT commissioner, said that Mr. Lindsey did not use him as a reference while seeking the new job.

"I just learned last week that he had submitted his resignation voluntarily," Mr. Nottingham said.

While Mr. Lindsey may have left on his own, a source close to the situation said that in the aftermath of the audit, there were a number of discussions with the Attorney General's Office about disciplining Mr. Lindsey and others involved in the procurement problems.

The same source said he wasn't surprised to learn Mr. Lindsey had sought another position in the wake of the audit.

Mr. Waugh defended the background screening for the parks job, adding that at the time the decision was made, Mr. Lindsey's name had not been publicly connected with any of the problems at VDOT.

The position was advertised well before the VDOT audit and Mr. Lindsey applied during that time, Mr. Waugh said.

Mr. Waugh said Mr. Lindsey will start his new job with a clean slate. "When they walk in here, we take them at face value and that excess baggage is left at the door," Mr. Waugh said. "If he comes, he will get a fair shot."

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