- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

The Metropolitan Police Department has yet to advertise for bids on its $3.5 million car maintenance contract, despite police officials' promises to do so amid reports about mismanagement of the current contract.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey on May 10 said the department would advertise for bids on the car maintenance contract currently held by Serco Management Services Inc. Chief Ramsey ordered the contract be rebid after The Washington Times reported it has cost the police department $700,000 over its annual budget because of mismanagement.
Eric Coard, the department's chief executive officer for corporate support, yesterday said the bidding process has been delayed by the city's procurement office.
He said the delay will require Serco to continue working on the police vehicles until the contract is rebid.
"It [the procurement process] is a little cumbersome," Mr. Coard said. "The expertise in-house is limited on this type of procurement."
Some D.C. Council members have demanded that the police department find another company to repair its vehicles.
Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, yesterday said she had been told that a contract advertisement would be publicized by June 4 and that a new contract would be in place by Oct. 1.
"This is a failure of a commitment made during the budget process. I don't know why it has not gone forward," said Mrs. Patterson, who heads the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the police department.
Mrs. Patterson, who is vacationing out of town while the council is in summer recess, said when she returns to the city Aug. 24 she intends to find out from Chief Ramsey and the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement why the contract has not been advertised.
Mr. Coard said it may be more than a month before a contract advertisement is ready to be released.
It usually takes at least six months for a city contract to be awarded after it has been advertised.
"It is no wonder they don't have a new contract. A couple of months ago they said they were poised to rebid," Mrs. Patterson said. "This is very different from the promises made."
Mr. Coard acknowledged that he had promised Mrs. Patterson that the request for contract proposals would have been completed by now. "We provided a time frame. We are behind on that time frame. The process is moving slower than we expected," he said.
Tracy Usry, an assistant director for procurement, yesterday said that the car maintenance contract is complex and has been delayed because the police department has provided an inadequate description of the scope of the work to be covered by the contract. He said the new contract is more complex and procurement officials have been careful in trying to strengthen the contract to protect the police department.
Mr. Usry said it may be at least three weeks before the final draft of the contract is completed, but he was not sure when requests for proposals from companies would be advertised.
Police officials have complained that the original contract, which was negotiated by the General Services Administration, was flawed. The Times found that the contract cost the department an additional $700,000 annually.
Serco was hired in September 1999 under the original contract, and the police department can extend the contract annually for five years. Police department workers repaired vehicles before Serco was hired.
The car maintenance contract expires Sept. 30, but Mr. Coard said he would have to arrange with Serco to continue its services until it is rehired or another company is awarded the contract.
Serco will be allowed to participate in the bidding although it has a backlog of 81 cars to repair, according to Antonio Rouse, the police department's new fleet manager. The cars waiting for service amount to 6.2 percent of the department's fleet of 1,300 vehicles.
Mr. Rouse, who took over as fleet manager on July 16, said he is not satisfied that the parking lot of the new fleet maintenance building at West Virginia and Montana avenues NE is filled with broken cars. He said that Serco has fallen behind and that he ordered the company to extend its hours weekdays and Saturdays until the backlog is eliminated.
Police sources attribute the backlog to better oversight by Mr. Rouse and Greg Hester, his service supervisor, who have forced Serco to continue working on cars until they are fixed properly. In the past some cars were returned to duty without being properly repaired and the two new officials are not allowing that to happen, the sources said.
"They are making Serco do what they are getting paid for now," said a police source.
David Tetreault, Serco's manager, yesterday said he could not comment on the backlog or whether Serco is planning to rebid the contract. A source familiar with the process said Serco is expected to bid on the contract.
Mr. Rouse said he reviewed the contract and determined it is not conducive to police car repairs.
One issue that must be addressed is the cost of automobile parts, he said, and that Serco charges the department 8 percent more than what parts cost.
Police sources said that in some cases the department is paying higher than retail prices for automobile parts.

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