City Desk

Nickles: DCHA Contracts Must Go to D.C. Council

Attorney General Peter Nickles has determined that the D.C. Housing Authority must send its million-dollar-plus contracts to the D.C. Council for approval.

Such a determination comes less than 24 hours after news broke that the Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has sent a dozen parks-and-rec construction projects worth $81.6 million to DCHA in a manner that eluded council oversight. The contracts subsequently awarded by DCHA have gone to firms with close ties to Fenty—raising a whole lot of question about the process.

The opinion released this evening came in response to a question posed today by DCHA. In it, Nickles relies on a 1996 corporation counsel opinion that addressed an almost identical question.

So what does this mean?

In essence, Fenty is punting the ball to DCHA. Fenty is shocked—shocked!—that DCHA would have bid out contracts without sending them to the D.C. Council first.

This will help him make the case that this work was sent to DCHA because the quasi-independent agency (its operations are accountable to a mayorally appointed board) is better equipped and moves faster than the standard city procurement process—not because he was trying to avoid council oversight.

But, if that were the case, there would have been a more transparent way to do this: doing what's called a "reprogramming" of funds from the parks-and-rec capital budget. Reprogrammings are subject to council review. But that's not what happened here. The money was basically handed to DCHA under cover of night under processes yet to be disclosed.

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  • Tired

    Does he think that we citizens of the District of Columbia are stupid? Nichols could care less about the law the creep keeper has no idea what the hell he is doing. Why in the hell didn't they follow the law first.

  • hymesb

    Sounds like they did there job. Something was brought to their attention and they corrected it. They sen it to the council.

    Even if you hate Fenty, you have to give him credit for fixing the problem.

  • Tired

    True, but how much of this is Fenty revelation or the thought of going to prison. Better yet next year is an election year don't be fooled by the (oh we are going to do it right this time maybe I won't get caught the next time)attitude he is not to be trusted. Or maybe the creep keeper got blindsided !!!!! If he has nothing to hide with this 1 and mind you I say this 1 why want they give the information the auditor Ms. Nichols asked for???

  • Lea

    He did not correct the problem once it was discovered. The Washington Post and the Council found a problem ---and yet his defense " how did that happen to be" that 82 million was sole source to my friends.

    I had no idea even though this guy illegally drives my car around the city. And the other guy, is my fraternity brother who arranged a fire truck to the Dominican Republican. How did that happen. Similar to how did city funds sponsor a party I attended, and whose membership I belong.

    If stupidity was a crime they would be on death row.

  • candycane1

    I hope Fenty likes the color orange. IT's going to be his signature color. This is Kwame Kilpatrick to the "T" in racketeering.

  • 1967dc

    I really hope the people in DC open their eyes to what Fenty is doing..he has no regard for the council or the law. I wish someone of influece would step up and take this man down. Are we headed for Marion Barry Part 3? Do we need another "The set me up FBI sting?????

  • E.C.D.C.

    He's definitely NOT getting re-elected.

  • Tom

    There is no way this type of reprogramming could have occurred with no one being the wiser. I work with government budgets and finance at the federal level and NO ONE and I mean NO ONE would reprogram any funds without it being approved at the highest level. You can move money around all you want (unless earmarked) within an individual program but to send the money to a different program or even agency is a crime!

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  • JoPo

    Is the determination that all contracts over $1 million have to be approved by Council retroactive? Does it apply to the $82 million or is it too late for those funds?

  • Terry Miller

    There is something called the Anti-deficiency Act. Agencies are not allowed to expend more than the amount that is appropriated for them. Since appropriations are done by the Council (subject to approval by the Council); I don't see how the D.C. Housing Authority could spend that money without violating the Anti-deficiency act, which by the way, is a crime.

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