Loose Lips

D.C. Contracting, Inc.

The world of big-dollar school construction in D.C. is pretty cozy.

How cozy? Two private firms are effectively awarding school contracts to their partners on other construction projects. That’s like two judges on American Idol having side-gig bands with some of the contestants.

For the next six years, the city is set to spend about $300 million a year on school renovation and construction projects. Two private construction management firms, McKissack & McKissack and Brailsford & Dunlavey, are helping the District government oversee all that spending. The firms’ responsibilities includes evaluating proposals and picking winners for city contracts with construction companies and architecture firms.

The two firms have had this job since 2007, when they won a contract ultimately worth tens of millions from the newly created Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. That office, headed by Allen Lew, had a virtual blank check to fix up the city’s broken schools. When Vince Gray was elected mayor, he made Lew his city administrator and Lew created the Department of General Services, where McKissack and Brailsford continue in their role as contract pickers.

How does that role work? In one instance last December, a three-member panel met in private to decide how to dole out more than $50 million in school renovation projects. The panel, according to records filed with the D.C. Council, included Philip Artin, a senior vice president at McKissack who is a close friend of Lew’s; Will Mangrum, a senior vice president from Brailsford; and a District government project manager, Eupert Braithwaite.

Among the winners: Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Construction, which received a $19.4 million contract to renovate Stuart Hobson Middle School; Rockville-based Forrester Construction, which won a $6.8 million contract for Nalle Elementary; New-York based Turner Construction, which got a $10.4 million contract to renovate Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary.

The problem: McKissack and McKissack and Brailsford & Dunlavey regularly partner with those firms on other multimillion-dollar projects.

For example, in 2009, Whiting-Turner won a $133 million contract to build the District’s new forensics lab. One of the project’s subcontractors? McKissack, which says on its website that it’s providing “architectural interior space planning; space programming; furniture, fixtures and equipment services; and tenant improvement services.”

In another partnership, McKissack formed a joint venture with Turner Construction in 2007 to build the $52 million Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. While partnering with McKissack on that job, Turner has been paid more than $310 million by OPEFM, city records show. An employee from McKissack has sat on some of the evaluation panels that picked Turner for that work.

Similarly, Brailsford & Dunlavey have partnered with Forrester Construction on a handful of charter school projects. That partnership was ongoing while Brailsford employees were evaluating Forrester’s bids for traditional public school construction projects, some of which Forrester landed. A Brailsford rep has sat on panels that have awarded Forrester school work that totals at least $70 million, city records show.

Other potential conflicts abound. Smoot Construction won a $10 million contract last year to start the rebuilding of Dunbar High School. On the panel evaluating Smoot’s bid was Artin, the senior vice president at McKissack. Smoot is part of a joint venture with McKissack, according to the company’s website, on the roughly $1 billion CityCenterDC project downtown that’s being partly funded by the government of Qatar.

Clark Construction, one of the country’s biggest construction firms, is also part of the CityCenterDC joint venture and has bid on at least one past school project. In 2009, Clark won a federal contract to build the new $435 million Coast Guard headquarters at St. Elizabeths. A U.S. government website that tracks contracts shows that McKissack has been paid $8.2 million so far as a subcontractor on that project. Smoot and Clark are also working together on the $500 million National Museum of African American History and Culture, where McKissack says it’s doing construction management work.

The potential conflicts don’t just stop at construction companies, but extend to architecture firms as well. Bowie-Gridley just won a $4 million contract for renovations at Ballou High School. The architecture firm has also teamed with Forrester and Brailsford on a $15.5 million renovation project for Meridian Public Charter School on U Street NW. Sitting on the panel that helped pick Bowie-Gridley for the Ballou gig, as well as other large-dollar architecture contracts, was Chris Dunlavey, president of Brailsford & Dunlavey.

Representatives from McKissack and Brailsford did not return multiple requests for comment. Both firms have good reputations, and there’s no indication that they’ve acted improperly in awarding contracts. But the potential for conflicts of interest is hard to ignore.

LL spoke with several smaller contractors who expressed little surprise that there were so many connections between the companies evaluating construction proposals and some of the bigger companies bidding on those projects. “That seems like a very big conflict of interest,” says one contractor who has bid on school construction jobs and says he feels like the winners are determined long before the panel evaluates the bids. The contractor, like others LL spoke with, declined to be named for fear of being “blackballed” from future contracts.

Compounding the potential problem is the fact that much of the criteria for evaluating school construction bids are subjective. On a 100-point scale, cost only counts for 25 or 30 points. The rest of the score includes the panel’s judgements about a firm’s experience, key personnel, and work plans.

Darrell Pressley, a spokesman for DGS, says the city has put “checks and balances” in place to make sure the procurement process works properly. They include: requiring panel members to sign nondisclosure agreements; having the Office of the Inspector General conduct regular audits; and requiring DGS Director Brian Hanlon to sign off on the panel’s picks. Asked if Hanlon had ever overturned a panel’s recommendation, Pressley says, “There’s not been a need for that to happen.” Pressley also says none of McKissack’s panel members has an ownership stake in the company.

It’s worth noting that DGS redacted the names of panel members from several contracts LL obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, saying that information was protected from public disclosure. LL has a hard time buying that explanation, though, as panel members’ names regularly appear on contracts listed on the D.C. Council’s website.

Lew’s spokesman directed LL to DGS for comment on this story. But in a previous interview, Lew said he doesn’t see a distinction between the private employees who work on his team and the public employees. Lew has argued that in order to manage so many projects done quickly and right, he’s had to bypass the traditional city bureaucracy that used to award contracts. Lew’s past success building the convention center and the ballpark (McKissack and Brailsford worked on both projects), coupled with the fast pace of school construction has effectively earned him a free pass from the city’s lawmakers.

And Lew says he wants to expand the model he used on school projects to other parts of city contracting. In other words, get ready for more conflicts.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

D.C. Contracting, Inc.
How private firms decide who gets D.C. government business
By Alan Suderman 

The world of big-dollar school construction in D.C. is pretty cozy.
How cozy? Two private firms are effectively awarding school contracts to their partners on other construction projects. ThatÕs like two judges on American Idol having side-gig bands with some of the contestants.
For the next six years, the city is set to spend about $300 million a year on school renovation and construction projects. Two private construction management firms, McKissack & McKissack and Brailsford & Dunlavey, are helping the District government oversee all that spending. The firmsÕ responsibilities includes evaluating proposals and picking winners for city contracts with construction companies and architecture firms.
The two firms have had this job since 2007, when they won a contract ultimately worth tens of millions from the newly created Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. That office, headed by Allen Lew, had a virtual blank check to fix up the cityÕs broken schools. When Vince Gray was elected mayor, he made Lew his city administrator and Lew created the Department of General Services, where McKissack and Brailsford continue in their role as contract pickers.
How does that role work? In one instance last December, a three-member panel met in private to decide how to dole out more than $50 million in school renovation projects. The panel, according to records filed with the D.C. Council, included Philip Artin, a senior vice president at McKissack who is a close friend of LewÕs; Will Mangrum, a senior vice president from Brailsford; and a District government project manager, Eupert Braithwaite.
Among the winners: Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Construction, which received a $19.4 million contract to renovate Stuart Hobson Middle School; Rockville-based Forrester Construction, which won a $6.8 million contract for Nalle Elementary;  New-York based Turner Construction, which got a $10.4 million contract to renovate Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary.
The problem: McKissack and McKissack and Brailsford & Dunlavey regularly partner with those firms on other multimillion-dollar projects.
For example, in 2009, Whiting-Turner won a $133 million contract to build the DistrictÕs new forensics lab. One of the projectÕs subcontractors? McKissack, which says on its website that itÕs providing Òarchitectural interior space planning; space programming; furniture, fixtures and equipment services; and tenant improvement services.Ó
In another partnership, McKissack formed a joint venture with Turner Construction in 2007 to build the $52 million Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. While partnering with McKissack on that job, Turner has been paid more than $310 million by OPEFM, city records show. An employee from McKissack has sat on some of the evaluation panels that picked Turner for that work.
Similarly, Brailsford & Dunlavey have partnered with Forrester Construction on a handful of charter school projects. That partnership was ongoing while Brailsford employees were evaluating ForresterÕs bids for traditional public school construction projects, some of which Forrester landed. A Brailsford rep has sat on panels that have awarded Forrester school work that totals at least $70 million, city records show.
Other potential conflicts abound. Smoot Construction won a $10 million contract last year to start the rebuilding of Dunbar High School. On the panel evaluating SmootÕs bid was Artin, the senior vice president at McKissack. Smoot is part of a joint venture with McKissack, according to the companyÕs website, on the roughly $1 billion CityCenterDC project downtown thatÕs being partly funded by the government of Qatar.
Clark Construction, one of the  countryÕs biggest construction firms, is also part of the CityCenterDC joint venture and has bid on at least one past school project. In 2009, Clark won a federal contract to build the new $435 million Coast Guard headquarters at St. Elizabeths. A U.S. government website that tracks contracts shows that McKissack has been paid $8.2 million so far as a subcontractor on that project. Smoot and Clark are also working together on the $500 million National Museum of African American History and Culture, where McKissack says itÕs doing construction management work.
The potential conflicts donÕt just stop at construction companies, but extend to architecture firms as well. Bowie-Gridley just won a $4 million contract for renovations at Ballou High School. The architecture firm has also teamed with Forrester and Brailsford on a $15.5 million renovation project for Meridian Public Charter School on U Street NW. Sitting on the panel that helped pick Bowie-Gridley for the Ballou gig, as well as other large-dollar architecture contracts, was Chris Dunlavey, president of Brailsford & Dunlavey.
Representatives from McKissack and Brailsford did not return multiple requests for comment. Both firms have good reputations, and thereÕs no indication that theyÕve acted improperly in awarding contracts. But the potential for conflicts of interest is hard to ignore.
LL spoke with several smaller contractors who expressed little surprise that there were so many connections between the companies evaluating construction proposals and some of the bigger companies bidding on those projects. ÒThat seems like a very big conflict of interest,Ó says one contractor who has bid on school construction jobs and says he feels like the winners are determined long before the panel evaluates the bids. The contractor, like others LL spoke with, declined to be named for fear of being ÒblackballedÓ from future contracts.
Compounding the potential problem is the fact that much of the criteria for evaluating school construction bids are subjective. On a 100-point scale, cost only counts for 25 or 30 points. The rest of the score includes the panelÕs judgements about a firmÕs experience, key personnel, and work plans.
Darrell Pressley, a spokesman for DGS, says the city has put Òchecks and balancesÓ in place to make sure the procurement process works properly. They include: requiring panel members to sign nondisclosure agreements; having the Office of the Inspector General conduct regular audits; and requiring DGS Director Brian Hanlon to sign off on the panelÕs picks. Asked if Hanlon had ever overturned a panelÕs recommendation, Pressley says, ÒThereÕs not been a need for that to happen.Ó Pressley also says none of McKissackÕs panel members has an ownership stake in the company.
ItÕs worth noting that DGS redacted the names of panel members from several contracts LL obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, saying that information was protected from public disclosure. LL has a hard time buying that explanation, though, as panel membersÕ names regularly appear on contracts listed on the D.C. CouncilÕs website.
LewÕs spokesman directed LL to DGS for comment on this story. But in a previous interview, Lew said he doesnÕt see a distinction between the private employees who work on his team and the public employees. Lew has argued that in order to manage so many projects done quickly and right, heÕs had to bypass the traditional city bureaucracy that used to award contracts. LewÕs past success building the convention center and the ballpark (McKissack and Brailsford worked on both projects), coupled with the fast pace of school construction has effectively earned him a free pass from the cityÕs lawmakers.
And Lew says he wants to expand the model he used on school projects to other parts of city contracting. In other words, get ready for more conflicts.    CP

Got a tip for LL? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6951.

The world of big-dollar school construction in D.C. is pretty cozy.
How cozy? Two private firms are effectively awarding school contracts to their partners on other construction projects. That’s like two judges on American Idol having side-gig bands with some of the contestants.
For the next six years, the city is set to spend about $300 million a year on school renovation and construction projects. Two private construction management firms, McKissack & McKissack and Brailsford & Dunlavey, are helping the District government oversee all that spending. The firms’ responsibilities includes evaluating proposals and picking winners for city contracts with construction companies and architecture firms.
The two firms have had this job since 2007, when they won a contract ultimately worth tens of millions from the newly created Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. That office, headed by Allen Lew, had a virtual blank check to fix up the city’s broken schools. When Vince Gray was elected mayor, he made Lew his city administrator and Lew created the Department of General Services, where McKissack and Brailsford continue in their role as contract pickers.
How does that role work? In one instance last December, a three-member panel met in private to decide how to dole out more than $50 million in school renovation projects. The panel, according to records filed with the D.C. Council, included Philip Artin, a senior vice president at McKissack who is a close friend of Lew’s; Will Mangrum, a senior vice president from Brailsford; and a District government project manager, Eupert Braithwaite.
Among the winners: Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Construction, which received a $19.4 million contract to renovate Stuart Hobson Middle School; Rockville-based Forrester Construction, which won a $6.8 million contract for Nalle Elementary;  New-York based Turner Construction, which got a $10.4 million contract to renovate Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary.
The problem: McKissack and McKissack and Brailsford & Dunlavey regularly partner with those firms on other multimillion-dollar projects.
For example, in 2009, Whiting-Turner won a $133 million contract to build the District’s new forensics lab. One of the project’s subcontractors? McKissack, which says on its website that it’s providing “architectural interior space planning; space programming; furniture, fixtures and equipment services; and tenant improvement services.”
In another partnership, McKissack formed a joint venture with Turner Construction in 2007 to build the $52 million Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. While partnering with McKissack on that job, Turner has been paid more than $310 million by OPEFM, city records show. An employee from McKissack has sat on some of the evaluation panels that picked Turner for that work.
Similarly, Brailsford & Dunlavey have partnered with Forrester Construction on a handful of charter school projects. That partnership was ongoing while Brailsford employees were evaluating Forrester’s bids for traditional public school construction projects, some of which Forrester landed. A Brailsford rep has sat on panels that have awarded Forrester school work that totals at least $70 million, city records show.
Other potential conflicts abound. Smoot Construction won a $10 million contract last year to start the rebuilding of Dunbar High School. On the panel evaluating Smoot’s bid was Artin, the senior vice president at McKissack. Smoot is part of a joint venture with McKissack, according to the company’s website, on the roughly $1 billion CityCenterDC project downtown that’s being partly funded by the government of Qatar.
Clark Construction, one of the  country’s biggest construction firms, is also part of the CityCenterDC joint venture and has bid on at least one past school project. In 2009, Clark won a federal contract to build the new $435 million Coast Guard headquarters at St. Elizabeths. A U.S. government website that tracks contracts shows that McKissack has been paid $8.2 million so far as a subcontractor on that project. Smoot and Clark are also working together on the $500 million National Museum of African American History and Culture, where McKissack says it’s doing construction management work.
The potential conflicts don’t just stop at construction companies, but extend to architecture firms as well. Bowie-Gridley just won a $4 million contract for renovations at Ballou High School. The architecture firm has also teamed with Forrester and Brailsford on a $15.5 million renovation project for Meridian Public Charter School on U Street NW. Sitting on the panel that helped pick Bowie-Gridley for the Ballou gig, as well as other large-dollar architecture contracts, was Chris Dunlavey, president of Brailsford & Dunlavey.
Representatives from McKissack and Brailsford did not return multiple requests for comment. Both firms have good reputations, and there’s no indication that they’ve acted improperly in awarding contracts. But the potential for conflicts of interest is hard to ignore.
LL spoke with several smaller contractors who expressed little surprise that there were so many connections between the companies evaluating construction proposals and some of the bigger companies bidding on those projects. “That seems like a very big conflict of interest,” says one contractor who has bid on school construction jobs and says he feels like the winners are determined long before the panel evaluates the bids. The contractor, like others LL spoke with, declined to be named for fear of being “blackballed” from future contracts.
Compounding the potential problem is the fact that much of the criteria for evaluating school construction bids are subjective. On a 100-point scale, cost only counts for 25 or 30 points. The rest of the score includes the panel’s judgements about a firm’s experience, key personnel, and work plans.
Darrell Pressley, a spokesman for DGS, says the city has put “checks and balances” in place to make sure the procurement process works properly. They include: requiring panel members to sign nondisclosure agreements; having the Office of the Inspector General conduct regular audits; and requiring DGS Director Brian Hanlon to sign off on the panel’s picks. Asked if Hanlon had ever overturned a panel’s recommendation, Pressley says, “There’s not been a need for that to happen.” Pressley also says none of McKissack’s panel members has an ownership stake in the company.
It’s worth noting that DGS redacted the names of panel members from several contracts LL obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, saying that information was protected from public disclosure. LL has a hard time buying that explanation, though, as panel members’ names regularly appear on contracts listed on the D.C. Council’s website.
Lew’s spokesman directed LL to DGS for comment on this story. But in a previous interview, Lew said he doesn’t see a distinction between the private employees who work on his team and the public employees. Lew has argued that in order to manage so many projects done quickly and right, he’s had to bypass the traditional city bureaucracy that used to award contracts. Lew’s past success building the convention center and the ballpark (McKissack and Brailsford worked on both projects), coupled with the fast pace of school construction has effectively earned him a free pass from the city’s lawmakers.
And Lew says he wants to expand the model he used on school projects to other parts of city contracting. In other word

Comments

  1. #1

    I have never been impressed with Allen Lew. He is lacking general management skills and clearly has some deadbeats around him in high paid positions that should probably be pushing a broom. But like so many cases in this City, it's not what you know or your capabilities, but rather who you know. Tony Robinson for one. Lew's chief of staff is real winner. Less skills than a money on a tree stump in my opinion. The city has many issues with mid level management and they are echoed now with appointments like Allen Lew and his dog and pony show AKA, we spent too much money on DC Schools renovation now let us take a crack at over spending on things city wide. Additionally, his cronies that he sleeps with are just too closely connected to run fair and independent oversight on the process.

  2. #2

    Thank you, Mr. Suderman, for revealing the connections. Lew has successfully hidden both his real and apparent Conflicts of Interest from public view for some time.

  3. #3

    Hey Player, I thought you had your hands full running the Stadium Club.

  4. #4

    so where is the FBI? asleep?

  5. #5

    WTF? The complete disregard for the city's procurement process is UNBELIEVABLE and illegal. Where is the US Attorney on this matter. One person can decide who gets millions in city contracts? That is BULLSHIT! Lew is a rotten SOB and should be locked up!! This punk ass council has nothing to say on this, but they want to call on Gray to resign and they have nothing to say on Lew's Contractor Selection Process.

    DC is getting robbed and the city is asleep. Fools!!!

  6. #6

    Luckily, DGS' Director, Brian Hanlon, is a strong leader who regularly stands up to Mr. Lew. Wait, no, he's actually a puppet who does whatever Lew tells him. Hanlon has surrounded himself with Lew's cronies and there is an ongoing blatant disregard for city laws-- several of his senior staff member have been involved in nefarious deeds in the past(google his Procurement guy JW Lanum for example) -- but now they have the purse strings to more than $1 billion.

    Not mentioned in this article (though it has been mentioned in previous LL articles)is the influence of another contractor-- Thomas Bridenbaugh of Leftwich and Ludaway. Bridenbaugh, whose father-in-law is a manager at Turner Construction, has already been noted for a conflict of interest by the DC Office of Inspector General. Yet, he's involved in many of the senior leadership meetings for DGS (which Mangrum and others also attend).

    Bridenbaugh also had a major hand in developing the Procurement Rules for the new DGS-- which, not shockingly, has several Leftwich people leading day-to-day procurement activities. Nothing like writing rules that enrich yourself.

    Frankly, there is no line drawn between contractors and city staff in DGS. In many cases, the contractors are deciding how to spend the city's money- and, not surprisingly, they find the best companies to do the work, which oftentimes are the companies they work for.

    DGS is a mockery and DC residents should be simply disgusted that their tax dollars are being used to line the pockets of the connected, the Friends of Allen Lew.

  7. #7

    @Joe-- the FBI is too busy with the Mayor. Maybe when they get rid of him, they can focus next on his City Administrator.

  8. #8

    Someone needs to start looking at the same old sub contractors that end up on all of these jobs, it's really not a fair playing field.

  9. #9

    This all started under Adrian Fenty, who brought Lew in. Everyone knew that Fenty was playing fast and lose with city contracts, but everyone looked the other way.

  10. #10

    On the other hand, the school modernizations have been top shelf. If you walk through any of the renovated buildings, they look better than many flagship university and ivy league buildings. The renovations are extraordinary and something that every resident can be proud of --any resident that actually is interested in education and their children.

    This isn't something that some cut rate contractor or top rate contractor on a cut rate budget could have accomplished. DC didn't overpay. DC got amazing results at a higher than minimum cost. That's exceptional value for the District.

    Also, most of you bozos don't pay any taxes anyway. You're just upset that your benefit checks aren't going up higher. You dream about how good things were in the old days when murders and lack of infrastructure investment put extra $$ in your pocket to spend on booze, dice and crack.

  11. #11

    Terry Miller, Lew's tenure with the District far predates Fenty. Lew has been around at least since the construction of the current convention center. But, why let the facts get in the way...huh, Terry?

  12. #12

    @Name, while I agree with your comment that the renovations are extraordinary and that we residents should be proud of them, this statement "If you walk through any of the renovated buildings, they look better than many flagship university and ivy league buildings" - is comically false, and takes away from the otherwise excellent points you make.

  13. #13

    Allen Lew is above reproach..but not Thomas Bridenbough. He is the designer of the system that generates these awards. He is the best at his business. The school bids are announced as GMP means GROSS MAXIMUM PRICE but everyone of them has change orders and that defeats the purpose of having GMP projects. The buildings are really built good no doubt about that.
    The schools in DC today are best maintaned. Ask any teacher or students that have graduated. There is now Air conditioning in every class room. In olden days the room tempratures in winter approached 95..No wonder the scores are rising since Allen took control of the contracts. The teaming with contractors is absolutely a conflict of interest and all of them should be audited by outside firm and NOT IG's office as that Agency does not know how to put teeth in their report..

  14. #14

    @Terry Miller...so tell us again why Mayor Gray chose to keep Allen Lew on as the City Administrator??? Fenty=Gray, Gray=Fenty...No Difference!

  15. #15

    Thanks Terry! A lot of what Allen wrote had already been mention under Fenty's term but the ends justified the means at that point in time.

    As to why Gray kept Allen on? He's scared of the pro-fenty crowd, therefore he kept many of the admin heads on to keep them quite.

    How's that worked out for you Mayor Gray?

  16. #16

    Where are the feds on this one?

  17. #17

    Man, whatever, this is nothing but a sham and Lew and Crew are a bunch of con-artists spending DCs money like drunk sailors on a weekend pass. Every project that Lew has had his hand on has never come in on budget, never! Look it up, there are always "unforseen" costs, ok, lets put in a change order and get more money.Wakeup DC, you are being taken to the cleaners but you got nice shiny new buildings.

    @citydude- really? "Ask any kid that has graduated"? The graduation rate is at 53% and dropping, but I am glad they had A/C in the classrooms.

    @name- what planet are you on? "We should be proud" of over paying for construction projects that all sole sourced by Lew? This corrupt at all levels, the end does not justify the means.

    Gray has screwed his own term as Mayor, you win an election and you put your people in position to run the city, not keep your opponents people. That is the dumbest thing we have ever seen. Now they are screwing you. A 70 year old mayor with no contacts, geez. Did you make any friends at GW or Dunbar. How about the Convenant House, DHS? Like Fenty said,"back to eighties or nineties" but Mayor One City has no network. More like back to nowhere with this dude. DC needs change, For REAL!!

  18. #18

    Come on.... This is NOTHING NEW, and not breaking any procurement laws. I've followed this as well, and in the construction industry, certain bidding rules have to be followed in order to comply with THE LAW. They have.

    Allen Lew is a Teflon Don. You will never get him on ANYTHING because he is squeaky clean.

    HOWEVER, if you look at the history of all of this, there have been a few cantakerous opponents of Lew and the DC-PEP team, namely, 21ST CENTURY SCHOOL FUND INC, and Nancy Huvendick, who likely contributed to this article behind the scenes. Really - go look her up. She was basically shut out of the process back in 2007 because she can't hack it in the big leagues, and is simply - pissed off - and thinks that everything these guys do is illegal because they keep winning like Michael Phelps or Lance Armstong - so they must be cheating, RIGHT? Well, go pound sand and cry in a corner - you're wrong.

    Last year, when the DC-PEP team contract went up for competitive bid - YES, COMPETITION - nobody else bid. Why? Because this contract is so complicated and this team has done such an outstanding job, that to take it over and perform successfully would be impossible.

    And The McKissack/B&D team's numbers?
    They came in LOWER than market rate.

    Allen Lew and the DCPEP team have done nothing but a STELLAR job in this city, and you should be thanking them for saving money, saving the schools, and saving your childrens' education in the District.

  19. #19

    @Doing DC proud
    And who specifically who on Bridenbaugh's team manages Turner Construction?
    Not him. Why? Because it would be a conflict of interest, he knows it, and he's a lawyer.
    2+2=???
    Not gonna trip him up.

  20. #20

    Having representatives from private organizations who are not subject to the same ethics requirements that District employees are is a big issue. Add that to the fact that when DC PEP says "on time and on budget" that it's really just to throw the casual follower off their scent, since you're likely so happy that your neighborhood's earth school was renovated that you couldn't care less about cost.

    The DC PEP average salaries are near 6 figures, while they sit in a rent free tenant space on U Street with the rest of the DGS construction staff.

    There is plenty to be found here, you just have to know who and how to ask. Sure, the schools are nice and all (and the rec centers will be nice also soon, since they manage that program now too) but the District has thrown so much money at these schools and anyone who is savvy enough to know anything about costs in this area for construction knows that you could "modernize" 2 schools for every one that DC PEP does. That's a fact.

  21. #21

    Look folks, Mayor Gray is a good man who is doing a great job. However, as I have been saying for so long, Mayor Gray does not run this city. The hard reality is that the "business elite" commonly referred to as the "establishment" runs this city.

    If anyone believes that Mayor Gray runs this city, then they just don't understand how politics operates. Sure, he is the Mayor and he is in a position to influence the private sector to do things which could benefit the citizens of this town.

    The business community wanted Allen Lew to be appointed to the said position. And, they expressed their desire to the Mayor and he honored that request.

    Clearly, Mr. Lew could do a better job to ensure that there's greater minority participation in the modernization of city facilities. And, yes, the Mayor's office must ensure that Lew's office never lose sight of this.

    But, the practice of awarding city contracts to hand-pick companies is an old-age practice that simply can't be curtailed with a swipe of the hand.

    The business world just does not work that way.

  22. #22

    Wait one darn minute, the renovated-new schools look great but they are falling apart piece by piece. So, don't get to feeling like we should all be greatful for these renovations. What goes around comes around and it is the 1970's all over again when it comes to school construction. That decade they were throwing up Woodson, Dunbar, Shaw and other schools and here it 40 years later we are rebuilding Dunbar. My sentiments, we are building new schools that look wonderful and marvelous but they will not last 40 years, I say the next 15 years or so we will be breaking ground again.

  23. #23

    @absolut john-LOL! Obviously you are on the payroll for one of these crooks. Wipe your mouth.

  24. #24

    Alan,
    Please do your homework about the construction industry and learn to define construction terms better.
    For example, the word partner has specific meanings in the industry. Let me challenge you to show all of us one charter school project where Brailsford & Dunleavy and Forrester were partners, as it is legally defined, as you claim in paragraph 10?
    They may have been hired by an Owner, like Meridian PCS, to work on the same job, but that doesn't make them partners.They each have individual contracts with the Owner.
    Your other examples, and many of the hysterical comments reveal a lack of understanding of the construction and the contracting process.
    Its also not mentioned that each of these contracts, above $1m, had to be presented and approved by the city council. These aren't done behind the scenes by anyone, let alone as UnrealDC said...as sole source contracts.
    There's no story here, there wouldn't be a FBI investigation, and the schools will be continue to be renovated as planned.
    Time to move on folks.
    PS- that means you too Keith.

  25. #25

    How can an article about dc contracting go to press without a bare mention of the Ft Meyer (and related companies) mafia or Mc dean?
    Jeez.

  26. #26

    @saysuckwhat-Everything you stated is Bullshit!!

  27. #27

    The Procurement process has always been a sham back when OPEFM and now DGS they don't follow any Procurement regulations within the DCMR. DGS Procurment Administrator J.W. Lanum is a real idiot that lacks management ability or Procurement knowledge in construction he is a DGS puppet a pile of dog crap left out on the curve that turned white!. Somebody need to throw J.W. Lanum in a TRASH CAN and then put the lid on the can because he is just that some garbage

  28. #28

    @ward 2+2
    Nope - Sorry, you have the wrong guy. I've lived in Ward 4 for over 10 years, BUT I work in Virginia.
    Remember - Don't Sht where u eat.

  29. #29

    Calmer than you are....

  30. #30

    @ Grizzley, Inc.
    Not sure who you are, but I will stand up for J-Dub. One of the sharpest individuals I have ever met. With him watching the process, DC workers actually worked - hard.
    DC gov't should be proud to have him on their team.

    It's obvious, you got smacked down at some time for not playing by the rules. Don't hate the playa - hate the game.

  31. #31

    Y'all are screwed. I worked for DC for 3+ years and was astounded by what I saw with respect to construction contracting.

  32. #32

    @ Absolut John

    Jerry Lanum is by far the biggest snake you'll find in DC politics. A primarily construction procurement Director who knows absolutely nothing about construction, how things go in the real world, or how to treat women (among other things). Lanum's worth is proven by the fact that Karen Hester is on staff to essentially do his job for him, and Brian Hanlon is there to sign contract documents and take the fall for any problems that come up because of them. His 140k salary is essentially a handout, for doing nothing or contributing nothing to the betterment of the District or its taxpayers.

    And he's a District taxpayer, which he'll tell you proudly.

    Suderman may not know how construction goes, but if he keeps picking at the scab, the sore will open up and I will be there laughing my butt off.

  33. #33

    @Absolut John

    For someone who does't work for DGS/OPFEM you sure know all of the players. Perhaps they "partnered" with whatver VA firm you claim to work for. Ha! Say what you want but your "inside" information is revealing. Many of these newly built "palaces" are falling apart as there isn't a proper maintenance budget to sustain them.

    Hi Teresa!

  34. #34

    why is this not more of a story? its too bad that the post didn't report on it first, there would be a greater public outcry, now they're unlikely to cover it because the wcp has the scoop. pretty ridiculous that the names of the panel members is not public knowledge.

  35. #35

    Chapter 18 of the District's Personnel Manual lays out it great detail how employees avoid conflicts of interests. Any employee would be fired or prosecuted for doing what these contractors are doing. Since the contractor's are performing city duties...contract oversight...how can they be excused? Keep looking, I bet that the current and former city administrators also have interests in these contracts. Sadly, DC only hires DC residents for top positions and has to pick from the same pool of unethical, back-slapping, palm greasing crooks.

    The FBI can't do it all...Wake up Congress!

  36. #36

    The real issue here is appearance. the two firms mentioned have stellar reputations, but it LOOKS BAD and smells of graft and inappropriate award. and it does not help that the DGS chief used to work for one of the firms before joining DGS! this is so typical of DC. its really a small town when it comes to real estate and everyone knows what firms are dirty, what firms can be counted on to get the job done, which people are letting the money pull them in and down. I don't think there is anything dirty here, Lanum is an idiot but the best the District can do. Seriously who with any experience or balls would take on this job? and get skewered? very few. i am in the know. I do think it wreaks of poor judgement once again, and here there is smoke theres fire. someone will get fired, someone will be found to be too scared they will lose their job to speak up. BUT HECK i gave up on idealism a long time ago, & would guess eventually a bigger scandal will envelope this one. have a good weekend.

  37. #37

    Its time to round these crooks up and get rid of them!

  38. #38

    From the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD blog:

    Legal fees swell cost of school construction | Washington Examiner

    ...Last year, the Examiner reported on the legal fees that accompany construction errors in the following article. Did MCPS make a good decision in pursuing litigation against this contractor? MCPS spent over $200,000 in legal fees on this one project. How did MCPS do? They settled for $525,000 on a $10 million claim.

    Legal fees swell cost of school construction | Washington Examiner
    By: Leah Fabel
    Examiner Staff Writer
    March 18, 2008

    ...Court documents filed in November 2006 accused McKissack and McKissack, a D.C.-based architecture and engineering firm, of nearly $8 million in cost overruns, designs out of compliance with state and local code, and delays resulting in forced overtime.
    Total construction costs for the school, now in its second year of operation, exceeded $20 million and because of design flaws will require more money for upkeep, the complaint said. In all, the district demanded a $10 million settlement plus interest and fees.
    In its defense, lawyers for the architects said a variety of factors contributed to increased costs, particularly design changes requested by the schools.

  39. #39

    Same story in Montgomery County, Maryland whenever a state government entity purchases artificial turf.

    http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2012/06/breaking-news-m-ncppc-artificial-turf.html

    Zero reporting of this issue when it happens outside of D.C.

  40. #40

    This article only scratches the surface on how Lew operates his machine, with regard to procurement. He eliminates all threats to his authority, especially those bureacrats seen as obstructionists for following DC regs.

    Hopefully, someone of influence is listening!!

  41. #41

    So where's the story here? DC is a pretty small city, why should anyone be surprised that you see the same names repeated on multiple projects? The procurement process has been greatly improved under Allen Lew -- things are actually getting done. There are a lot of small local contractors in town; some of them are quite capable, and they do get awarded many projects, projects that are within their scope -- and therefore not high profile; but the article completely ignores this. Fenty's procurement processes under DMPED were much more questionable - being awarded to fraternity brothers with no apparent experience or expertise.
    So thanks LL for pointing out that people in this town know and work with each other. We really needed that insight.

  42. #42

    "And Lew says he wants to expand the model he used on school projects to other parts of city contracting. In other words, get ready for more conflicts."

    And new public facilities costing three times or more than what they should.

    Great job, Alan! You have made the important point that it doesn't matter who heads up a bad process--and make no mistake that once the shiny newness wears off these over-priced baubles we will see how bad it was--that is what needs to be changed.

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