- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2002

The Metropolitan Police Department will replace the private company that repairs its vehicles on Aug. 1, according to city documents.

The D.C. Council on Tuesday approved a $4.1 million contract with First Vehicle Services of Cincinnati to maintain and repair the department's fleet. The contract with the company, which is a division of Ryder Truck, is initially for one year with an option for an additional four years.

First Vehicle Services will replace Serco Management Services Inc., which was hired in October 1999. It was the department's first major contract with an outside supplier and an internal audit said it did not provide adequate contract monitoring or supervision of the contractor.

This is the second contract Serco has lost to First Vehicle Services within the past year. First Services was awarded a contract with the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, which had previously contracted with Serco, in October.

A continuing investigation by The Washington Times has found that the police department has mismanaged the contract, which allowed Serco to overcharge and double-bill the department and make faulty repairs.

Because of failings of the company, Chief Charles H. Ramsey said in May 2001 he would rebid the contract.

Two weeks ago The Times reported that there is a shortage of marked police vehicles because of the number of cars awaiting repairs at the department's garage at 2175 West Virginia Ave. NE. The Times found about 200 marked and unmarked cars on the lot of the garage, mostly marked vehicles.

The department has only 600 marked vehicles.

Chief Ramsey said that overtime was authorized for mechanics and major repairs were approved and that the vehicles were sent to body shops and other garages.

The department began advertising for proposals in November. First Vehicle Services, Serco and SKE Support Services Inc. submitted bids and the three companies were interviewed in March and April.

The D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement determined that First Vehicle Services submitted the best proposal.

"First Vehicle Services has been providing these services to local government since 1978 and recently with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority and Montgomery County," says the contract summary presented to the D.C. Council. "FVS has the infrastructure in place to provide these services."

First Vehicle Services will be paid about $344,000 per month during the first year of the contract.

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