Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Topeka Housing Authority Stimulus Spending Fails Federal Audit

The scent of cronyism in contractor selection for local public housing construction surrounds yet another Kansas public housing project for seniors, according to a HUD Inspector General’s audit of the Topeka Housing Authority use of federal stimulus dollars to build Tennessee Town II. The Topeka agency received a total of $12 million in Recovery Act funding, and of that amount $833,000.00 was designated for construction of 16 elderly housing units at Tennessee Town II. According to the IG Audit Report, the process for selection of a private developer for construction of Tennessee Town II was not documented at all in writing, and there was no identification of selection criteria for the builder, or the reasons supporting the final choice.

All the Authority would tell the IG was that the developer was chosen on the basis of conferring with other local housing authorities and then with two potential developers identified in that process. The Topeka Housing Authority claimed it does not have a checklist of procurement policies for its staff to follow. Nevertheless, the agency was able to use public bidding and written award criteria to document contractor selection for its much larger Echo Ridge construction project.

Could it be that local officials thought that by sending out written RFP’s for the big job, they could cover up their cronyism in awarding the little one to their buddies?

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