- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

The D.C. public school system has begun an inquiry into the billing practices of a Vienna, Va.-based company that provided school security for more than six years.

The inquiry comes after an audit by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General found instances of double-billing.

The audit, completed earlier this month, also found that MVM Inc. failed to abide by contract requirements to replace absent school security guards.

The D.C. Office of the Inspector General said it uncovered nearly $40,000 in questionable costs during a review of millions of dollars in invoices that MVM submitted from January 2002 to July 2003.

The inspector general also recommended that the school system look into billing throughout MVM’s tenure, from 1996 to 2003.

“Although these savings may appear to be minimal, we believe a subsequent review of the invoices will disclose additional billing errors,” according to the audit issued by D.C. Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby.

MVM officials disputed the audit’s findings yesterday.

“These are alleged findings from the inspector general, which we refute,” said Joseph W. Morway, senior vice president and chief financial officer for MVM, a multinational government contractor with more than 3,500 employees.

“They’re making claims in there that officers weren’t in positions and so forth,” Mr. Morway said. “We’re a responsible government contractor.”

Auditors stated that, during their review of invoices, they uncovered “other questionable billing issues” that were outside the scope of the audit.

Last month, D.C. schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey sent a letter to the inspector general, saying the school system will conduct a formal audit of MVM’s billing practices.

The school system’s Office of Compliance, an internal watchdog, will “determine whether additional over and duplicative billings were paid,” Mr. Janey wrote.

He also stated that the school system will demand the return of funds, including those uncovered in the inspector general’s audit.

Mr. Janey said the District’s contracting office is sending a letter to MVM demanding payment for billing errors.

The audit recommended that the school system seek reimbursement from MVM for overbilling of more than $15,000, double-billing of more than $13,000 and more than $9,000 in fees for violating terms of the contract.

The inspector general placed some of the blame on the school system.

The audit found that the school system failed to properly review monthly invoices from the company and that it did not issue fines for absent security guards.

The contract required that MVM replace absent guards within two hours. But the audit found that in some instances, the contractor failed to replace guards at all during the day.

Three unidentified school principals told auditors that there were occasions when absent officers were not replaced.

“Failure to replace officers not only violated the contract, but also placed the overall safety of [D.C. public schools] students and staff at risk,” the auditors wrote.

Mr. Morway, however, said the company justified its expenses.

“We were there for over six years, our invoices were approved, and we went through each and every inch of invoices,” he said.

He said the company has not been asked to provide reimbursement for any billings during its years in the school system.

The audit on the contractor’s billing is the eighth and final in a series that the inspector general issued for the school system’s security practices in recent years.

An audit issued last year after another company took over the school system’s security contract found that security guards received licenses despite lying on license applications about having criminal backgrounds.

Other reports detailed problems with the school system’s contracting practices and security-guard qualifications.

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