- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2005

D.C. officials say they are confident the company awarded the school security contract will keep the job, despite an order for city officials to rebid the contract or re-evaluate offers submitted by the two finalists.

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the council’s education committee, said she initially evaluated the $30.1 million contract awarded to D.C.-based Hawk One Security Inc. and came away satisfied with the pact.

“I was pretty comfortable that a fairly good job had been done,” she said. “My assumption is the award will remain with Hawk One based on some of the financial reviews we did.”

The order from the D.C. Contract Appeals Board on Monday stated city officials failed to follow contracting rules and disregarded information in awarding Hawk One the two-year contract, which took effect July 1.

Hawk One won the contract previously held by Watkins Security Agency of D.C. Inc., which filed a protest with the appeals board that cited widespread bidding improprieties.

However, Ed Reiskin, the District’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said the bidding process was fair and impartial.

“The re-evaluation will ultimately speak for itself, and if we get dramatically different results I guess we’ll see otherwise,” he said. “From my vantage point, it was a fair and thorough process. I expect the re-evaluation will affirm that.”

The appeals board judges said there were questions about Hawk One’s drug-testing policy, specifically that it does not mandate random testing for every employee who comes in contact with children in the District’s 167 schools.

The judges also said there were questions about whether Hawk One had enough management experience.

The contract requires the designated project manager have experience supervising 350 or more employees. However, city officials approved Hawk One’s proposal for a project manager who had not managed more than 300 employees, the judges said.

Watkins held the security contract from 2003 until July, when the Metropolitan Police Department took over the job.

Janis Bolt, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement, said Wednesday there is no immediate timetable for how long the re-evaluation process will take and that Hawk One, meanwhile, will continue to provide security services.

The board’s ruling is the latest in a long series of setbacks in the District’s handling of school security. The D.C. Office of the Inspector General recently found the police department was licensing some security guards who had lied about their criminal backgrounds.

Council member and mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said the contract dispute shows the District does not place enough emphasis on schools.

“It’s one more example of us not giving the highest priority to our schools,” he said.

Mr. Fenty wants the school system to provide its own in-house security, instead of procuring it from outside contractors. He also said school Superintendent Clifford B. Janey supports the plan.

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