- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2001

The D.C. polices fleet maintenance department, already under investigation for selling off more than $300,000 worth of new auto parts for pennies on the dollar last year, has scheduled another auction tomorrow.
This weeks sale includes pallets loaded with hundreds of new Ford Crown Victoria back seats, new police cruiser light bars and office furniture, some still in original boxes.
The 300 new Crown Victoria back seats, which cost about $1,400 apiece to replace, make up the bulk of items to be sold tomorrow. The seats are removed from new police cruisers and replaced with molded plastic so that prisoners cant hide anything in the folds of the factory-standard cloth seats.
In the past, the cloth seats were kept and then reinstalled when the car was sold. On Thursday, though, the city plans to sell the new seats as scrap.
The equipment, stored on the second floor of the fleet maintenance building at 1501 South Capitol St. SW, is being sold so the police department does not have to move it to its new building, the Northeast Ford building at West Virginia and Montana avenues NE, later this month.
"They are getting rid of it because of the move. Some of the equipment they can use, but they are getting rid of everything and they feel if they need something else they can buy it," a police department employee said.
"They could use most of that stuff. The department is so wasteful," said another employee.
Brender Gregory, director of the police departments Business Services Department, is overseeing the auction. She said she was not aware that all the back seats and new office equipment were being sold. She said that fleet employees were supposed to keep some of the back seats.
But when told it appeared that all of the 300 seats had already been marked as lots to be sold, she said she would have to check on it.
"They were instructed to hold some back," Miss Gregory said. "I dont know if they are all [slated to be sold]. There shouldnt be any new light bars. If there are, they will be removed. We shouldnt be auctioning off any brand new desks."
Miss Gregory said later that she went to the fleet maintenance building and found the desks and car seats, adding that she ordered 50 of the seats to be kept. She also said not all of the desks will be sold and will be checked to see if they can be used.
Miss Gregory said that the department has to get rid of excessive inventory in order to move to the new building.
The equipment is being auctioned at a time the police departments Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the auctioning last year of $300,000 worth of auto parts as scrap. The parts were from the fleet maintenance parts inventory and they were removed from parts bins when Serco Management Services Inc. began repairing police cars in September 1999.
The Washington Times found that the majority of the parts sold could be used on vehicles the department owned.
The Times has also found that mismanagement and a lack of oversight by police department officials led to $1 million worth of cost overruns on the departments $3.5 million contract with Serco.
The Times also reported this week that Serco funneled more than $100,000 worth of work on police cars to the son of a top company official, a story that prompted Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey to include the payments to the officials son as part of the departments investigation.
The police equipment is being auctioned off by the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement and, according to the offices public notice, the equipment is available for public viewing today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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