Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said management of the County’s Kane Regional Centers gave an
optional two-year contract renewal to its food service provider despite violations of the contract’s terms
and shortcomings in the performance of the contractor, Aladdin Food Management Services, LLC.
“When the welfare of some of our most vulnerable residents who have been placed under
the care of the County is at issue, the highest levels of accountability and oversight must be in place,”
Wagner said. “The results of our audit indicate that Aladdin’s work needs improvement
and that the Kane Centers management must ensure that changes occur.”
Wagner said a recurring theme of the report was insufficient oversight of the contract
by Kane Centers management. In one instance, a managerial position overseeing food service
was filled with an Aladdin employee rather than a County employee. Two dietician positions at another
Center were filled by Aladdin employees as well. Wagner said these moves created a lack of oversight
and potential conflicts of interest.
“Robust oversight of all government contracts is essential, but when it comes to critical services
such as ensuring the welfare of more than 1,000 vulnerable senior citizens in the Kane Centers,
it is absolutely paramount,” Wagner said. “Management positions must be filled with responsible employees
accountable only to the Kane residents and the taxpayers. This responsibility absolutely cannot be outsourced.”
Reports from the Allegheny County Health Department reviewed by auditors showed 51 food safety
or sanitation violations in Kane Center food facilities, including seven high-risk food safety violations.
Some of these violations had not yet been resolved at the close of the Audit.
“While not every safety violation indicates clear and present danger, the volume, duration,
and severity of violations at the Kanes are cause for great concern,” Wagner said.
“In a health care setting, anything less than meticulous attention to food safety could
have disastrous consequences. Kane Centers management must ensure that Aladdin does
its due diligence to prevent safety violations, or else find a service provider who will.”
Aladdin also violated the terms of its contract by not maintaining
a log of all complaints about food service, and did not conduct required
surveys on food service quality as frequently as the contract requires.
Wagner said the Audit Report shows that financial oversight of Aladdin’s services was
lacking as well. Aladdin overbilled the County by $18,950 for employment of
part-time workers and $7,434 for dietician services, records revealed.
“The Kane Centers are a vital resource for County residents with needs that
cannot be met elsewhere, and past reports by my office have shown that by and large
they provide quality, cost-effective services. While the County should remain committed to providing
the resources necessary to offer these services, controls must be in place to ensure they are used
efficiently and within the terms of contracts,” Wagner said. “This Report shows that accountability must
be improved, and that performance standards on contractors are in serious need of enforcement.”
The full Performance Audit Report on Aladdin Food Management Services, LLC can be viewed here.
Lou Takacs, Communications Director