- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

A math error has caused the D.C. government to understate by more than $7 million the money it costs taxpayers to provide security at city buildings.

Officials with the D.C. Office of Property Management want the D.C. Council to retroactively sign off on approximately $7.5 million for District-based Hawk One Security Inc., on top of the company’s $14.1 million contract.

Last year, the District awarded the $14.1 million contract to Hawk One, but now property-management officials say the amount of the security contract should have been for about $22 million.

City officials said the District’s Protective Services Division (PSD), which is under the Office of Property Management, did not correctly add up the number of hours that guards are required to work under the contract.

The officials said the PSD budgeted for the correct number of work hours, but the contract solicitation and award that officials sent to the D.C. City Council last year included the wrong total for work hours.

The City Council must approve any contracts that total more than $1 million.

“It was a math error,” said Carol J. Mitten, director of the Office of Property Management.

In addition to seeking approval for retroactive payment, property-management officials are seeking to increase to $22 million the amount that Hawk One will be paid under a contract extension.

Miss Mitten said she could not identify the employee who made the math error in the original contract.

“I don’t know where the slippage occurred. I think this is more of a technical issue of what was sent to the council,” she said. “The contract contained the correct number of guard hours, but when it was added up it was wrong.”

The Office of Property Management also is seeking more money for the Hawk One contract to fund guards at 18 D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation sites that were not included in the deal.

Hawk One — which under a separate contract also provides security in D.C. school system buildings — staffs guards at most city buildings, including the John A. Wilson Building, which houses the offices of the City Council and Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Officials with the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement said they noticed the problem with the original contract when property management officials sought to increase it by nearly $8 million.

“While the Office of Property Management budgeted for the correct number of [guard] hours, they inadvertently provided a much lower number of hours … for the solicitation and subsequent contract award,” said Janis Bolt, a spokeswoman for the Office of Contracting and Procurement.

Hawk One is the D.C. government’s largest security contractor, but since last year, it has faced questions about its financial stability. In the fall, the company was hit with a $1.4 million federal lien for unpaid taxes from 1998 to 2002.

The company previously has said its liens were incurred because of money troubles during the 1990s, when the District was slow to pay its contractors.

Meanwhile, Hawk One’s $14.1 million contract to provide security in city school buildings has been under scrutiny since last year, when an appeals board ordered the city’s contract office to rethink its decision to award the company with the deal.

A competing contractor, Watkins Security Agency of D.C. Inc., has challenged the Hawk One contract, citing questions over the rival’s finances. The D.C. Contract Appeals Board ordered the city to rebid the contract or re-evaluate offers that finalists submitted.

“The contracting officer is re-evaluating the proposals,” Miss Bolt said.

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