- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few and Assistant Chief Gary Garland awarded three no-bid contracts to a consultant for whom they had worked as volunteer instructors and did not disclose their affiliation with the contractor in their financial-disclosure statements, city records show.
D.C. disclosure laws require city officials to declare their affiliations with city contractors and payments from contractors of more than $100. Filing false financial-disclosure statements can be punished by fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail, according to the D.C. Code.
City records show that Chief Few and Chief Garland have approved three sole-source consulting contracts for Carl Holmes & Associates since October 2000. The contracts, which total $23,500, paid for 13 days of work by Mr. Holmes for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department about $1,808 per day.
Both chiefs previously served as instructors for the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute in New Orleans, which was founded and operated by Mr. Holmes. They also received free lodging and travel reimbursements from Mr. Holmes that they did not report in their financial-disclosure statements.
Chief Few, who is paid $130,000 annually, and Chief Garland, who is paid $105,000 per year, said they did not know they were supposed to list their affiliation with Mr. Holmes in the disclosure statements.
"I've lectured. I don't work for nobody. I never received a paycheck," Chief Few said Thursday. "I never thought I was breaking any rule."
Kathy S. Williams, general counsel for the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, said an official has violated the law if an omission of an affiliation with a contractor occurs willfully or by error.
"It could include employment for informal affiliation," Ms. Williams said, speaking in general terms. "We want to know all of your connections. We want to know where you may be compromised."
The city's financial-disclosure law was toughened after Mayor Anthony A. Williams failed to disclose his affiliation with a contractor when he announced his candidacy. The mayor was fined $1,000.
Ms. Williams said her office would investigate any instance of disclosure violations.
Mr. Holmes, 75, is a retired Oklahoma City assistant fire chief who runs a consulting firm and the Executive Development Institute. Mr. Holmes identifies himself in his literature as holding a doctorate but said in an interview he has an honorary doctorate. He has been a friend of Chief Few's for more than 20 years.
Chief Few said he hired Mr. Holmes without advertising the job because he had worked with Mr. Holmes, who was available.
"Carl is probably the No. 1 or No. 2 consultant in this country. Carl has done some very good work for us. He is familiar with our organization," Chief Few said, adding that he did not know Mr. Holmes holds an honorary doctorate.
Other fire officials in the Washington region said Mr. Holmes is not an expert in the field. Most of the information he provides can be obtained from the National Fire Academy, they said.
Chief Few said he did not know that a December 1995 investigation by the D.C. auditor blamed Mr. Holmes for providing a portion of a 1990 D.C. Fire Department promotional exam that was full of technical, grammatical and typographical errors. The city had paid Mr. Holmes $191,853 for his portion of the test.
The auditor found that Mr. Holmes' part of the test identified equipment the fire department did not have and procedures that conflicted with the department's rules about dispatching firefighters.
Mr. Holmes has run his consulting company out of his Oklahoma City home, and he is its only employee. Oklahoma's secretary of state said there are no listings of corporations or businesses in the names of Carl Holmes & Associates or Carl Holmes.
In an interview, Mr. Holmes said he closed his office about three years ago and is semiretired.
Mr. Holmes said Chief Few and Chief Garland served as unpaid instructors for the Executive Development Institute. Chief Garland has taught for the past six summers. Chief Few taught occasionally during the past 10 years. They received free lodging and meals during seminars at Dillard University in New Orleans and were reimbursed their travel expenses, he said.
The institute leases space from the university during summer recess and is not otherwise affiliated with Dillard, the university's business manager said. Participants in the institute's seminars receive continuing-education credits.
Chief Few said he was provided an airline ticket once to teach at the institute; Chief Garland said he was reimbursed for travel. Both said the institute provided them free lodging at the Dillard dormitories and food from the cafeteria.
Records show Mr. Holmes was hired under two D.C. Fire Department "single-available-source contracts" on Oct. 2, 2000, and April 11, 2001. The contracts were awarded and approved by Chief Few months before the chief filed his financial-disclosure statement in May, in which he said he had no affiliations with any city contractor.
The fire department indicated there were three contracts, but it could not provide the documents for the third contract. The department said in a statement that all city procurement practices were followed. The city's procurement regulations say single-source contracting can be used only if a contracting officer determines that the contractor "is the only source capable of providing the required services."
Mr. Holmes submitted an invoice for his work on the October 2000 contract on Sept. 12, 2000, almost a month before Chief Few signed a requisition for hiring a consultant. The contract, for "team building and problem solving," paid $15,000.
On March 3, Mr. Holmes sent Chief Garland an invoice for his work on the April contract again, a month before the contract was requisitioned.
Fire department spokeswoman Lisa Bass said Mr. Holmes erroneously sent the invoices. But Mr. Holmes said he does not prepare proposals for his contracting work.


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