(Pittsburgh) Nov. 12, 2015 –Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner today issued an audit report
identifying questionable procurement, contracting and management practices on roofing projects under
the Allegheny County Department of Facilities Management that overran budgets by more than $89,000,
and which resulted in taxpayer dollars being paid to middleman firms in Arkansas and Texas,
and work on one project being performed by a sub-contractor from Georgia.
Wagner questioned the necessity of utilizing a convoluted procurement process and multiple out-of-state firms.
"As I drive into work each morning, I pass by five or six contractors working on roofs. When my roof leaks,
I don’t call Arkansas, and I don’t think the County should either,” she said. "Every dollar that was overspent
as a result of this terribly inefficient process needs to be picked apart so this never occurs again.
Just like every homeowner would expect when replacing their roof — the bidding must be
transparent and the project must be properly supervised. This is just basic common sense."
Wagner said that the audit was prompted by what a construction inspector from her office observed
during a routine site inspection of the roofing project at Deer Lakes Park. Not only did the inspector find
construction deficiencies that had to be corrected, he found workers on the site who seemed to be
unaware that they were working on a project that required them to be paid prevailing wage. Most troubling,
according to Wagner, is that the County had no one supervising the project — and, to date, the Controller
cannot be certain who actually performed the work or whether they were paid the legally mandated wage.
The Deer Lakes project was one of six roofing projects under the
County’s Department of Facilities Management examined in the audit.
Initially, the County advertised the projects but did not receive any responsive bids.
Because of this, the County "piggybacked" upon an existing contract for roofs on schools
in Texas, utilizing middleman firms from Arkansas and Texas which each received commission.
“If our procurement process is working as it should and local firms are receiving a fair opportunity
to learn about and bid on work with the County, we should never have to go to Arkansas and Texas
to get this work accomplished," Wagner said. “It’s very concerning to me that we received no bids on
a project that dozens of local businesses are qualified and ready to perform. This especially is counter
to the County’s commitment to provide opportunities for small businesses and minority,
veteran, and women-owned firms.”
“The lack of bidding in this instance also caused the County to rely on ‘piggyback’ contracts,
where it is impossible to know whether the County is receiving the best price," Wagner said.
“Contracts in Allegheny County need the highest level of transparency and oversight, and local
businesses should receive every opportunity to bid on County contracts and perform County work
so that our tax dollars stay in our community, rather than being sent out to Arkansas.”
Wagner noted that with such issues arising from relatively small contracts for routine services,
it is essential that much larger contracts under the auspices of the County’s authorities receive scrutiny.
For instance, it was recently revealed the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) had awarded
more than $15 million in contracts for professional services without competing bids.
Wagner announced measures this week to seek greater transparency from the authorities after
a Judge’s ruling found their oversight falls completely under state purview. She plans to propose
legislation to state lawmakers to improve oversight and to convene a citizens’ task force to seek reforms.
“If the Controller is not shining a light on these processes,
unfortunately I think the public will remain in the dark," Wagner said.
TheAudit Report on Contract Compliance Roofconnect Logistics, Inc.can be viewed here